Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Dacu Fach and Nanna

Gentle Reader~~I thought I might introduce you to the two main influences in my gardening life.  Due to much moving around and a large family picking over the family photographs {long before I was born} I do not have many photographs of my forebears, so those I do have are most precious to me.

First, I will show you my Great Grandfather {Dacu Fach} known locally as Harris Fach {Little Harries} whom I did not know, but have learnt much about.  This is the only photograph I have of him at his work.  He was a professional, apprentice~time served gardener in the late Victorian and early twentieth century.  He originally lived in the south of the Shire but moved to the north of the Shire as there were many estates needing gardeners, which allowed him to move up the ranks, so to speak.  He was a gardener at Warpool Court estate in the late Victorian era, and appears on the 1901 Census as 'living in the Gardener's Cottage' in the grounds.  Many of his eight children appear on that same Census, including one of his three daughters, my Grandmother {Nanna}, who was probably the single most important influence in my love of gardening.  He became the groundskeeper at the Cathedral, and in his later years he was the gardener at The Grove Hotel, and it is here we see him, up a ladder in the glass house, most probably pruning the grape vines and training his two young apprentices.

Now, I move to his daughter, Frances, my Nanna.  She is pictured here, aged about nineteen, with her very much younger brother Jim {Uncle Jim} who is in his uniform ready to go and serve for King and Country in the trenches of France during The Great War {WWI}  He was a very naughty boy, for he had lied about his age, as so many did back then, so that he could receive the Kings Shilling and sign up to go to war.  I think he is about fifteen in this picture, the dates all tie in and this photograph is one hundred years old this year as we remember the outbreak of WWI.  He doesn't look very old at all, neither does Nanna. I love her outfit.  I wonder what colour it is? She favoured purple greatly.  Thankfully, he returned home safe and sound.  I wonder what she would think, being the subject of a blog in the twenty first century?

Anyway, we lived with Nanna when I was growing up, until her death in 1977 at the age of 80 years.  During most of this time, she encouraged me in the ways of gardening, both indoors and outdoors; the garden was big, long and narrow, and although we did not grow many vegetables at that time, we had fruit trees and bushes, beautiful flowers, and we kept some hens.  The grass was long, for back in those days we did not have a mower, but used a hand operated shears to clip the grass on the main, small lawn area underneath the apple trees.  We had a long washing line that ran for most of the length of the long, narrow garden and I loved to watch her peg out the laundry on wash day {Monday} with wooden pegs, then later watch it sailing in the breeze to dry and bleach in the sun.  I would run in and out of the big, white sheets as they flapped about playing some silly game of hide and seek with myself. I have a not~so~secret passion over laundry drying on lines in the fresh air and I do not like tumble dried clothes one jot!  I also adore ironing.

Nanna loved flowers, more than anything I think.  What she couldn't do with a cutting or snippet of a leaf could be put down on the back of a postage stamp.  One of her favourite poems is in the sidebar of my blog, and her favourite lines were "The kiss of the Sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God's heart in a garden, than anywhere else on Earth" which she taught to me at a very early age.

We would go off, just the two of us, for long walks into the rambling countryside lanes, travelling the highways and byways, but always home in time for tea.  She taught me the names of all the wild flowers and grasses, and so much more as we traipsed along, Grandmother and Granddaughter, hand in hand, best of friends.  They say I look a lot like her, but I don't know.  Mum says she and Dacu Fach would be proud of me for what I do, how I try to give things a go, even though I don't think I'm doing very good at being a gardener.  Well, I hope they won't be too cross with me for all the mistakes I'm making, and the mess I am making too.  I also hope my own dear Daddy is with them and he isn't mad either at all the weeds in his lovely lawn.  There's only so much I can do without help, you know.

It was so easy in the days when Daddy would mow, dig, and do the heavy work and I would do the planting and weeding.  We made a great team.  Since he has been gone, it is not easy doing it all, but I am doing what I can {with my back and arthritis for added hindrance!} with the hours I can spare.  The bigger plan is to make it all manageable~~a place to sit and ponder, a place for wildlife, and a place I can be happy and proud of too.  Remember ~~~

~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~


  1. Hi Deborah,
    I too learned to love plants from my grandma, which helped me work along side my father in our HUGE family garden. We are now going through old photos since our mother passed away in May.

    1. Margot, I am so sorry to read your sad news, but I am sure you will find great comfort as you go through the old photographs and happy memories. I know it helped me to do this when I lost my dear Daddy.
      Isn't it wonderful that so many of us came to our love of gardening through our Grandparents?

  2. Hello Friend!
    What a lovely post! It has made me wonder where I get my love of playing in the dirt from. And you and I share a love of ironing! Every time I iron my hankies I always feel such satisfaction...and I never have anyone to share that with. Until now! LOL!
    I think when it comes to gardening that we are NEVER done and that is just that! It is important to keep at it and enjoy it along the way.
    I enjoyed the family photos so much. I can hear your pride and deservedly so! Thanks for sharing your family history with us.

    1. Boo You! Thank you. I thought you would like it. Okay, so we are now officially weird loving ironing~~most people just don't get it at all. In college I could always be found pressing a scrap of calico because I loved the smell! Oh! My!
      Well, you are just going to have to ask if you have had any gardeners in your family, aren't you? Would love to know ~~~ D xoxo

  3. Oh, Debs! What a wonderful tribute to the gardeners in your family! It's easy to see that you have learned both the skills and love of gardening from them. They would be so proud to know the labor of love that you give every day in your garden! Be patient and kind with yourself, as you grow and nurture so much beauty. Through your blog, you are sharing so much gardening wisdom with friends near and far. Wishing you "the kiss of the Sun" and "the song of the birds" in your garden today! So glad we're friends! ♡

    1. Thank you Dawn! I wish I knew more than I do, but those who could tell are either gone or cannot remember what I would like to know. I do not feel worthy of the praise you give though, for I operate very much on a 'wing and a prayer' and everything has two chances!
      For a future blog, I want to re~write a not~so~little piece that I composed about the house in which I grew up, the same house that I can see just a stone's throw away from the bottom of my drive ~~ another little insight to history.
      I'm so glad we are friends too! Yay for Friends! Debs xoxo

    2. Deb, you are a natural at gardening! Your love of nature and attention to and appreciation of the tiniest details are such gifts. My lovely mom has always been my best gardening inspiration. Today I spent a lovely afternoon in the herb garden. So many wonderful scents and the sweet sounds of birdsongs all around me. It was so peaceful. I'm really looking forward to a post about the house you grew up in! I'd love to see pictures, too! (I have imagined the little cottage… and wonder what it really looks like!) ♡

    3. Herbs are one of my gardening passions! I love them for their scent, the way they attract bees and butterflies, the way they make my food taste, and their healing properties too. I've always loved herbs ever since I was a child. D xoxo

  4. You have such a lovely heritage! I'm looking forward to hearing more about it. I have that saying on a plaque in my garden. I was holding my breath to see whether your 15-year-old uncle made it through the war. So glad to hear he survived.

    1. My Grandmother had five brothers all of whom fought in one or both World Wars {as well as many nephews} and it is a miracle that a family with so many men at the front, or at sea, or in the air, returned home safely. Only one {a husband of one of her nieces} failed to return.


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