Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Joyful Gardening

A short month from a Trustee and gardening point of view as I spent part of it walking in the mountains of Western Crete.  Not an ideal time of year for flowers perhaps, but perfect for enjoying the abundance of early autumn.  I ate courgettes and chestnuts cooked in more ways than I had imagined possible.

I was walking with a group of people who, although great lovers of the outdoors, are not plants-people.  It made me realise just how fortunate we gardeners are.  Quietly recognising plants around us (and having a curiosity about those we don't) adds layer upon layer of pleasure to an activity as simple as walking.  Spotting the occasional bright red fruit of arbutus and enjoying the glorious smell of crushed thyme kept me going over many a rocky crag.

The joy that plants and gardening bring to us was mentioned at the Institute of Horticulture's AGM and Conference earlier this month.  The Conference focused on young people in horticulture and the ways in which they can be encouraged and supported.  When accepting the President's Award for his work in this field, Chris Beardshaw made a comment which could be usefully tattooed on the back of our hands - or at least written somewhere where we can be sure to see it once a day.  He said that it is our responsibility to pass on the joy we feel when we are around plants.  I think we all recognise that joy every day but what are we doing to spread it around?

In the last week or so, I've been preparing some information for a symposium on community gardening.  The question I had to answer was 'What does the AGT understand by Community Gardening?' When I started to investigate the extent of the CGTs' involvement in community gardening projects, I realised that it was going to be very difficult to precis. From introducing vegetable gardening in schools, to the creation of new public gardens, the Gardens Trusts seem to be doing their bit.  Yes, research, conservation and the protection of historic gardens are central to our aims, but we do realise that those aims will only continue to be achievable for as long as we have a population that understands the point of gardening.

So perhaps we are already passing on some joy?  But is there something we could do to spread it more widely?  We could start by ensuring that we all know about the projects that are working well throughout the country.  Do let me know about anything inspirational that is going on in your county.  Perhaps it is something that could be duplicated elsewhere?  If not, just reading about its success could bring joy to someone's day.

For those of you who have visited the Gothic Temple at Stowe Landscape Park - yes, we did find the owl, Neptune and three crowns hidden in the ceiling. But it took us a long time and gave us very stiff necks!   

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