Natalia Bogucka is a gardener from Poland with a keen eye for not only growing, but photographing her stunning plant collection. Today, Natalia tells GardenTags about her journey as an allotment gardener…
My Journey into Gardening
One of the things I remember best from my childhood was the flat we lived in, smaller than our biggest room now. As tenants living on the ground floor we had the right to use the garden. I remember clearly the red tulips, the brown and purple irises and the ubiquitous forget-me-nots. But now, the years have passed, I live in a completely different place, and gardening for a long time was only a memory.
My renewed interest in plants began with orchids, photography and disease. At the age of 16, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. It’s not life-threatening, but is severe. And incurable. I became closed off, always either at home or in the hospital. So I started looking for a springboard of everyday life. On my 18th birthday I got my first camera, and soon after my first orchid. What came next was too easy.
I started by photographing potted plants and bouquets bought at the fair, before becoming interested in flowers, garden beds and even weeds! For a few years I filled the windowsills, often with the help of a gardening forum, while envying the garden owners I saw there. I live in a block, so my only hope for outdoor gardening, was an allotment.
A year and a half ago, my health improved so much that I started to think I may be able to realise my gardening dream. The search lasted a fair few months. I wasn’t interested in the already developed allotments. I wanted to create something of my own. In April last year I found a pretty distant garden, outside the city limits. And that was it, clean air, birds singing and flowering fruit trees. I circled with my mom in the garden for a few hours, but eventually returned to the two parcels that caught my attention at the beginning. Neglected, without a garden arbor, but with beautiful old trees and a well.
Two days later, I bought the two allotments. A total of 600m2 of couch grass, uneven ground and absolute happiness. I also decided to start my own blog as an online diary for gardening, but I was stuck for a name for it. On my first visit, I discovered that the whole allotment was full of strawberries! But, I later found out that the plants were not just strawberries, but wild strawberries. An old variety, multiplying by runners. The Polish names for strawberries and wild strawberries are completely different, but the first name of the blog stuck – ‘Truskawkowa Działka’ (Strawberry Allotment).
The first season in my new allotment was spent learning about terrain, building an arbor and weeding the area for the first discount. The second season then expired on similar tasks: further weed control, the first sowing and bringing order to the trees. All the while, discovering and planning. An unidentified shrub proved to be a grown-back Willow, and the largest tree is not a Maple, but a Walnut! There is a plenty of work to do and it’s not light work. But, every day I don’t go, I now feel is a day wasted! I hope that in the future, Truskawkowa Działka will change from a neglected mini-orchard to a blossoming paradise with old trees dressed up in white every Spring.
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