A Growing Enthusiasm

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"That's when I found planting only half the story." Francesca has been disappointed by her attempts to grow flowers in her garden, but she kept trying.


"I've always been fascinated by watching things grow. The metamorphisis from a stone-like seed to fully fledged plant holds an intense excitement for me.

As a student I turned studies of sprouting seeds into porcelain sculptures. Unfortunately I hadn't anywhere for those dream plants to mature ... like a patient seed in its packet, I had to wait and wait for the right conditions for germinations.

After half a lifetime the decision to end the uphill struggle to make a living from raising stock on a smallholding left me with the opportunity to turn rough hillside into a productive and decorative garden ... that's when I found planting things was only the start of the story. Plagues of greenfly, slugs and caterpillars enjoyed munching the tender morsolls long before they were of a size to put on the dinnerplate and there was something seriously wrong in the veg patch. My peas were pathetic ... leeks mistaken for spring onions, onion sets didn't and my runner beans bolted.

As my despair frustration and hunger grew, help arrived like Batman and Robin... Llandrillo Gardening club came to the rescue.

In no time, Bob - who know's his onions - had me scattering lime to neutralise the acid soil. Ellis' cucumbers could withstand my punishing regime of over watering and lack of ventilation in the greenhouse. Stan and Elspeth had me feeding my leeks with secret brews and pruning my apples into production ... whilst Margaret demonstrated her unique method for forcing rhubarb.

Delwyn even showed me where to pinch the berriest holly but, best of all, I've discovered a support system for myself; a wealth of local knowledge and experience is helping me plan and grow a brighter, more satisfying future."

By: Francesca Webb
Published: April 2002

An interview with the author

So, Francesca, you took part in the Denbigh Workshop?
Yes indeed, but I live in a small-holding in Llandrillo, which is about 40 minutes from Denbigh itself. My background is in sculptural pottery, where I created sculptural and domestic pieces influenced by the organic forms that I see in my surroundings - mosses, rocks and even bones I find while walking along the hillside. They are a constant source of inspiration - enthralling and intruiging. I am originally from Folkestone, but have lived in Llandrillo now for over 23 years, and all of my children have been brought up in these surroundings. The place itself gives the scope for personal development, and a world of discovery.

How did you become involved with the 'Llandrillo Gardening Club'?
Through my neighbours. Although we discuss horticultural things we also share our knowledge. It's great being involved with them - this great sense of community, they are like my extended family in a way.

How did you find the workshop?
It was exhilirating but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. I am really keen on setting up a similar project in Llandrillo, in a local Arts group that we've set up within the last year.

What have you been doing since the workshop?
Since the workshop I have been developing my computer skills further, from which I will hopefully be able to record once again the beautiful surroundings, and give other people an insight to the wonderful world of the Llandrillo hillside.

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