How the pandemic will change the way we look at gardens
PUBLISHED: 12:12 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:28 08 July 2020
Christine Bird 2019
Garden column with Royal Horticultural Society ambassador and TV presenter Adam Frost
My 2020 started like so many others with great plans, creating a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show being one of them. Then, after a spring trip to Mauritius with Mrs Frost, we arrived back to a country with no toilet roll or baked beans!
Like so many, we have spent more time at home in spring than ever before. In a strange way I feel like I have regained a balance to my life and I know more than ever how lucky I am to have outside space. I have found myself musing, lost in a moment watching bees (there are about 250 different types of bees in our country that we are constantly putting at risk), birds bathing, plants emerging like diamonds in the mud, our meadows coming to life (we have lost 97% of them in the last 50 years), and then closing my eyes and soaking up every sound, with fewer cars to spoil it. Every moment is so precious.
Over 30 years ago, I was lucky enough to get a job with Geoff Hamilton as his landscape manager. Most of you more mature gardeners will remember him well, but for those of you that don’t he was the anchorman for Gardeners’ World back in the 80s and early 90s, and is still remembered fondly by many.
The man has been on my mind a lot lately, this gentle soul who cared about our fragile world. He talked about peat free gardening, growing organically and stopping destroying the wider landscape through the work he did with plant life, long before this was trendy. The sad part of that is we are still having the same conversations today. Looking back he really influenced how I have led my life. In reality it was he who set my moral compass as far as gardening is concerned.
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I’m well aware that not all people have access to what we have on our doorstep and some choose not to, but how many of them, during lockdown, discovered that space outside the back door? I had the privilege of hosting Gardeners’ World a couple of times over Easter, a time when things seemed to be changing by the day. During filming I was mindful, even worried, about the tone of the programme, nervous about showing too many lovely garden shots. Then, after the programme went out, people started to send messages and emails and it dawned on me that so many people were getting pleasure from such simple things.
It has just made me think that if anything good was to come out of all this madness, it’s maybe a simpler life and a connection with nature. I have known for so long about the power of gardening and what it can do for us, but this time has truly cemented that theory.
Like so many others I have felt the anxiety of our predicament, waking at 4am, but after spending the morning in the garden I could both physically and mentally feel the anxiety ebb away, the heartbeat drop and being taken to a place of calm.
Since lockdown started, spring has come and gone, things have been cut back, mulching is done and the garden really is in full flight. I have decided that these monthly ramblings – because I promise you that this is what they will be – will celebrate the natural world that are our gardens and how we can enjoy them to the max.
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