Place of Relaxation


I spent a lovely day in our garden on New Years Day. Getting out in the garden and pottering is truly my `Place of Relaxation.’ I’m so excited about the new gardening year. My website is full of images of flowers that I’ve planted and cared for over the last couple of years. I am passionate about flowers! I love growing them and I love photographing them as well as painting them in watercolours.

George Spice gardening
George Spice (1851-1942)

Where did my green fingers come from? My Grandma’s Grandfather, George Spice, was a gardener professionally for most of his life. I never met him but his passion and skill for  growing things was handed down the generations. George Spice grew up in Bapchild, Kent, where he worked as a gardener for a country house called Hempstead House in the 1890s. George and his family moved to Clapton, London in the 1900s. George was able to find work with a large market gardening business owned by Owen Charles Greenwood in Upper Clapton Road. We have some lovely pictures of George hard at work.

Owen C Greenwood



My Grandma remembered the Greenwood’s florist shop where she used to visit her Grandad George at work. It was a large shop with an enormous fountain in the middle which she thought was amazing. George Spice always took pride in his appearance and even when retired wore a flower in his buttonhole.


My husband doesn’t have my passion for gardening. In some ways I’m quite pleased about that! Before I moved in I was aware that the dandelions were taking over and would need to be shown who’s boss. There were no flower borders only a narrow strip which was full of rhubarb and swiss chard.








When I moved in I couldn’t wait to start a transformation and grow flowers. I am trying to create an informal cottage garden. However my words when I took over the garden were `It looks like a concentration camp with that big high fence!’ Well the fence still remains as Mr Smiles is quite a private person.  However I am slowly putting in plants which will hopefully climb and ramble. Don’t tell Mr Smiles!

Looking back over the photos I took of `my’ garden last year has been so exciting. It was the first year I saw the fruits of my labour. I am trying to create a bird friendly garden and in the last week have seen a blackbird, robin, blue tit, great tits, a nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker and a wren.  DSC_4185DSC_4211











It is great when a plant emerges out of the soil which I have completely forgotten about, like greeting an old faithful friend. I hope George Spice would approve of my labours!









I  am particularly proud of my roses.








So a New Year in the garden begins…Shoots are beginning to emerge.

DSC_7771I’m not sure if this is a good thing to have daffodil and crocus shoots peeping up through the ground in January but it still makes me happy thinking about the year ahead.

Mr Smiles was very generous this Christmas as he bought me a fabulous new set of gardening tools which I will enjoy using over the years ahead.


They are so beautifully made it seems a shame to get them dirty!



Last Autumn I collected my own seed for the first time. Up to now I have bought plants and seeds from the garden centre. This year I want to have the joy of growing my own plants from seed I have collected for free. I’m not sure if I will be successful but growing things is in my genes and it will be fun having a go! I am particularly excited about the Agapanthus seeds I collected.


These are amazing plants which I love.



Agapanthus, or African Lily, are summer-flowering perennial plants, grown for their showy flowers, commonly in shades of blue and purple, but also white and pink.


I have also been very inspired by Sarah Raven’s Seed Collections.  So much so that my Uncle gave me a fabulous seed collection of hers called `Really Good Cut Flowers’ for Christmas.


The collection includes 20 packets of seeds in a stylish, reusable tin, detailed sowing instructions, a month by month sowing and harvesting chart and a planting plan designed by Sarah so you know exactly what to plant where. SarahRavensSeedCollection Apparently I will be able to `fill our house with vases of cut flowers for most of the year with these seeds – the very best, most beautiful and productive cut and come again flowers – for a small cutting patch, with the right balance of flowers and foliage.’ I can’t wait!

I look forward to sharing the photographs I take of these fantastic flowers as they come into bloom throughout the year ahead.


I’m also looking forward to being able to relax in our beautiful garden surrounded by pretty flowers….

Dec 2013 I’ve just received this fabulous image of the florist shop where George Spice worked. Wow I can see why the shop formed a lasting impression in my gran’s mind!

Owen C. Greenwood





2 Comments on New Beginnings in our Garden

  1. pauline taylor
    19th December 2013 at 5:55 pm (6 years ago)

    Do you remember me Patsy? I am the great granddaughter of Owen Charles Greenwood. You contacted me a long time ago now, and sent me those lovely photos of George Spice. A ‘cousin’ on my Greenwood side sent me the photos from your website so I had to have a look. It is lovely, congratulations. I like to think that I have green fingers too but I doubt if OCG did any gardening himself so it won’t have come from him in my view! My grandfather and my father were both gardeners though and flowers and produce from their cottage garden in Gt Horkesley were sent up to London on the train to be sold in the shop at Clapton.

    Very best wishes, Happy Christmas, and thank you again for the photos, they are proudly displayed in my Greenwood album.


    • Patsy Smiles
      19th December 2013 at 10:28 pm (6 years ago)

      Dear Pauline

      It was so lovely to hear from you Pauline. I believe you gave me the photo of Owen Charles Greenwood all those years ago. I am glad you enjoyed reading my Blog Post about my passion for flowers and gardening which I must have inherited from George Spice. I have a photo of George’s daughter Ethel amongst her garden roses, which I will post up next Summer when I write about my roses so do keep looking out for my Blog Posts!
      It must have been a mutual contact who recently sent me a newspaper cutting showing the florist shop in Clapton. An amazing jungle of flowers! I can see why the florist shop was a vivid memory for my Gran.

      Please do keep in touch.
      Patsy Smiles


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