|Dad, at the front door of the first garden I remember.|
My very first memory of a garden was when I was five years old. It was the mid 1970's and we were living in East London. Mum and Dad had bought their first place together which was an old Victorian semi, it cost them a whopping £7,000. It was two flats when they bought it and Dad renovated it, turning it into a lovely family home.
The garden was quite a mess to start with, but Dad soon put down a nice patio and Mum planted some colourful flowers, turning it into a tidy place for me and my baby Brother to play. As my memory drifts back to that garden I picture myself in small red shorts, pink t-shirt, red wellies and a cowboy hat, pushing my pink plastic pram around the huge tree at the bottom of the garden. I suddenly spot two big brown eyes peering at me through the fence. It is my best friend Shareefa, she is five too and I think she has the prettiest name in the whole world. I quickly squeeze myself through the gap in the fence and follow my friend to the back door of her house, where I edge my bottom onto a wooden stall.
I suddenly hear my Mum's voice as she calls my name. I jump up and wave goodbye to Shareefa, as I squeeze back through the gap in the fence. I spot my young, pretty Mum standing at the opposite end of our large garden, where she is happily chatting to a neighbour. I run over to her and wrap one arm around her legs as I look up at these two women who are deep in conversation about the price of washing powder.
Renee is much older than my Mum, in fact to my young years, she is the oldest lady that I had ever seen. Her pure white hair is tied loosely in a bun with wispy strands framing her soft wrinkled face, her smell is a combination of lavender and moth balls, her smile is wide and warm as she reaches her arms out to lift me up and over the low fence into her garden.
I hold Renee's fragile hand tightly, noticing that her skin looks almost transparent as I peer curiously at the deep blue of her veins. I walk with her along the black and white tiles of her chequered garden path, and I feel a connection to her. Renee points out all the different flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs that abundantly fill her garden, as she encourages me to stop and take in the scent of each and every one. I instantly feel an inner calm as birds sing, a bumble bee busily hums and a gentle breeze is rustling the leaves of an old apple tree, sending a sweet, soothing aroma of Chrysanthemum's through the air and into my nostrils. I knew at that exact moment that Renee was my Friend, and I decided that when I grew up, I would have a garden just like hers. And so began my love of gardening.