Their garden in North Weald in Epping is their pride and joy. It’s full of the plants that they love. “In the front garden we mostly have roses,” explains Susan. “ But down the sides of the path we’ve planted lavender all the way down with standard roses and bush roses in between. Sometimes we plant cosmos in there too and in the spring we have tulips that come up every year and we add to them all of the time. It looks lovely and was inspired by the garden at Chartwell where Winston Churchill lived.”
The back garden is larger and is loosely divided into two areas. “There’s an archway planted with climbing roses which we call Dean’s archway, in memory of our son who died in a car accident,” explains Susan. “As you go through the archway it opens out into a bigger garden. Keith’s border is down the side, he loves the hot colours and has lots of reds and orange flowers. He loves all the cannas and rudbeckias. In the middle of the lawn is a kidney shaped border full of my softer pastel shades of lilacs and pinks.”
The Flower Power Magic
But while the couple is a little divided in their colour palettes they are completely in agreement when it comes to the secret of their success. “We are convinced it’s because of Flower Power,” says Susan. “The longevity of the flowers is simply amazing. The flowers are such rich colours and so tall. We are absolutely amazed with it. We used to use a well-known plant food but a friend in the village bought Keith a tub of Flower Power for his birthday. She lost her husband and we help her with little things. We took her for her flu jab and she handed us a present all wrapped up. It was Richard’s lovely diary. Every year she buys Flower Power for Keith’s birthday and in between we buy it too. It’s does last a long time, it’s marvelous and we are really impressed with it now. We help another elderly couple with their garden. They’ve got a huge garden and it all got a bit too much for them in their later years and we stepped in to help them. We’ve got it back to normal for them now. They always ask if we’ve brought our magic potion with us, because we use the Flower Power in their garden too. We are supposed to do two hours, but we are always there for four. We just do it until we are happy with it. We get so much pleasure from helping. Recently they’ve started to cook us a meal at the end of it, so we know call it Lasagne Tuesday,” she laughs.
Gardening is known to be therapeutic. GPs are even prescribing gardening to some of their patients to help them through difficult times. That’s certainly something that Susan and Keith Wells recognise. When their son Dean was tragically killed in a car accident, they struggled to come to terms with their loss. Susan distracted herself with her demanding job as a taxi rank controller and they muddled their way through it. “I really needed to work for my own sanity really. I think it helped me to be with all the people I’d known for a long time and it was nice to have all the banter and support. When I retired I missed that, but I realised that I hadn’t really grieved in that time. I’d been so busy with the full on job that I hadn’t had time to do my grieving.” But when they finally retired their garden became a source of healing for them both.
“I think that work took over for my mind and perhaps I didn’t have the time to grieve like I should have done. But since retiring two years ago, I have noticed the gardening has kicked in a lot more because I can lose myself. And I have found it a bit of a struggle, not to retire because it’s time I retired because I felt it was time for myself, but because I’ve had so much more time to think. The garden has really been a therapy to me,” says Susan. “It’s all good now because we’ve got our gardening.”
But it’s not just their garden where they weave their magic. Keith and Susan also help others who are struggling with their gardens.
“One of our friends was ill in hospital for sometime and her garden had got out of hand and she was worrying about it. We offered to help with her garden and she was over the moon. We got it all back into shape for her. And now we go round every so often and keep it nice for her. We do love it.”
It’s not just Flower Power that has pride of place in Susan and Keith’s garden shed. They’ve been trying Lawn Magic, “It really greened up our lawn very quickly, and the grass grew much thicker too,” she reports. “And we use Richard’s slug pellets too, they really do the trick and we love that that they are organic.”
But it’s the effect of Flower Power that has really kept them amazed. “I’m amazed what it does for me the garden. And all this colour even in October and November. Several years ago it wasn’t like that. I know there’s climate change and all the rest of it and the seasons do all roll into each other but the colour and the height of our plants, well, just Wow. It really is amazing.”