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15 October 2014
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Mother's Wartime Garden, by Marguerite Pattenicon for Recommended story

by Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2005

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Contributed by 
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2005
People in story: 
Marguerite Patten
Location of story: 
High Barnet
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
29 June 2005

Marguerite Patten presenting the BBC programme 'Can You Cook?' in 1950

This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer on behalf of Marguerite Patten and has been added to the site with her permission. Marguerite Patten fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

My husband, who was in the RAF, and I did not have a permanent home during the war. Just before our daughter was born I went to live with my mother. She had established a splendid garden in High Barnet in Hertfordshire, before the war, with some help with the heavy work. Fortunately I shared her love of gardening, so we worked happily together. Both of us were busy women - my mother was still teaching and I was one of the Food Advisors in the Ministry of Food. In winter we worked at weekends, but in summer we were out in the garden during the light evenings to weed and harvest fruits and the vegetables that were mature.

The garden was large with green fields at the end of it. A flower garden and lawn adjoined the house but beyond that was an abundance of produce. There were apple and plum trees plus a small pear tree, a long line of black, red and white currants (delicious raw), with gooseberry bushes, raspberries and loganberries. The Royal Sovereign strawberries were our pride and joy. Beans were great favourites so through the months we picked the broad, French and runner varieties, also lots of peas.

There were plentiful supplies of onions to give flavour to wartime dishes, leeks, potatoes, carrots, turnips (delicious when young and small) and parsnips. For some reason we did not grow swedes. Throughout the months there were various green vegetables - kale and spinach being favourites, plus a good range of herbs. The cos lettuce and tomatoes were so plentiful we could present some to friends. When it got dark we retired to the kitchen to bottle fruits - including tomatoes - and make jam and chutney when we had saved sufficient sugar from our rations. War-time gardening was hard work but very satisfying and productive.

Marguerite Patten

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