I was born in 1950 in Welling, which is now part of London, but was then in Kent. I have been gardening for many years, although sometimes doing the minimum to keep everything tidy. As a child in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, I was given a very small patch of our garden where I built a minature rockery and bought plants for it. I also remember successfully growing nasturtiums, sweet corn and begonias. Later my father got an allotment and I grew some pumpkins. Unfortunately the biggest was stolen. I was very upset, although the next biggest still won a prize at the allotment show. I remember double digging the plot; also picking raspberries on hot summer days. After I went to University my Dad gave the allotment up - saying that Mum did not use enough of the crops we grew! For the next few years gardening disappeared from my interests, and it was only after buying a house and getting married that I started again - flowers in a very small garden in Leeds. We have lived in our present house for 30 years and gardening has always been important. A beech sapling and mountain ash 'sorbus: Joseph's Rock' are now large trees. When I retired we redesigned our garden with the help of our son so that we now have 2 ponds connected by a stream, as well as paths and lighting. We also bought a greenhouse in 2007 and that has been really useful for protecting half hardy and young plants and growing tomatoes and cucumbers. Four years ago we were also fortunate to get a small allotment (one-third of a plot) so now we can grow all sorts of vegetables - not always successfully! For us the best crops have been French Climbing Beans, Runner Beans, potatoes, lettuce, onions, as well as strawberries and raspberries.