Growing 1,000 plants 'distracted us from worrying about our children'
PUBLISHED: 20:23 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 20:23 04 June 2019
A garden is often said to be a peaceful haven where you can forget all your troubles. And now two neighbours say their competition to grow 1,000 plants between them not only allowed their friendship to blossom but helped them forget their problems - namely worrying about their children.
Cath Pickles and Catherine Keable struck up a friendship when the latter moved to Frostenden, near Southwold, four years ago and discovered her neighbour had a shared passion for gardening.
The reasons why they have become so green-fingered is remarkably similar, for as Ms Keable said: "We both have children who have serious health conditions, so our gardens have become a shared interest and something to think about instead of worrying about our children."
So after the failure of any of their seeds to germinate during the long, hot summer of 2018, they set each other an unlikely challenge - grow 1,000 plants in a year between them.
Incredibly, their luck changed and the pair will now put the fruits of their labours on show at a plant sale to raise money for charities which reflect the challenges both have faced - Hypo Hounds, which trains diabetic alert dogs for children, and Restitute, a new organisation set up by Mrs Pickles to offer support to third party victims of violent and sexual crime.
Ms Keable added: "I've always loved gardening but four years ago I moved to Frostenden and discovered that one of my new neighbours was as passionate about her garden as I was.
"Last year, during that long, hot summer, some things grew really well and others were a complete disaster.
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"Like real, true friends there was quite a lot of mickey-taking and the odd glass of sherry. The combined 'bet' to produce 1,000 plants in a year came from that night.
"Ever since, we've been sowing and making cuttings and clucking over our plants. It's become a welcome distraction and a lot of fun.
"Despite everything, we're determined to pass on the fun we have with our gardening. All the plants we have to sell will go home with instructions and a rating scale of how difficult or how monstrous they might become.
"The vast majority started life in our gardens, so we know what works well for them. In some instances, we've completely ripped up the traditional instructions plants come with because they are utterly meaningless."
Mrs Pickles said: "We're clambering round plants like some mad obstacle course now.
"Most of our families think we're completely bonkers but now it's only a few days away, I've started having recurring nightmares about a sudden frost or a phantom weed-killer monster.
"We just need people to come this weekend and then we can go back to having the odd glass of sherry and relaxing in the garden. Gardening is supposed to relieve stress, isn't it?!"
The plant sale will be from 11am to 4pm on both Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9 at 32 Gipsy Lane, Frostenden.
The venue is wheelchair friendly and everyone is very welcome.