A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to be asked to support an initiative led by Scottish growers of plants, on behalf of the whole of Scotland’s horticultural industry.
One year on from when reality dawned on the affect this virus was going to have on us all, a 20m long floral rainbow of hope featuring 12,000 primulas was created on the historic Mound of Edinburgh’s Old Town, as part of a National Day of Reflection.
As I stood admiring the colourful display I couldn’t think of a more symbolic way to capture my mood. Although I’m sure we all expect plenty more twists and turns as we live with this new disease, there is genuine light at the end of tunnel and a way back to a more normal way of living. This coincides nicely with this time of year when every spring all gardeners are full of hope and excitement for the year ahead.
I know I am biased but as we think back during these horrible of dark times we’ve had over the past year this simple rainbow shows perfectly just how a spot of gardening can bring us so much colour and pleasure to our lives.
During the pandemic nearly 90,000 people in Scotland have taken up gardening. That is just fantastic! I can’t deny it would have been as much through boredom as anything else but I do hope they will have realised just how good it has made them feel, not just the end result such as a few colourful pots, some home-grown tomatoes or a lovely new patio area but also the process of being outdoors and regularly tending their space whether it’s 10 minutes a day or 10 hours a week.
The challenge we all face now is keeping these new gardeners interested especially those who have faced a set back or two and think they are more talented that killing rather than keeping plants. It happens to us all and I know I’ll continue to have as many failures as successes right up to the final day I am able to get out and garden.
One way we can all share our gardening experiences and learn from each other is by tuning in to the latest series of Beechgrove Garden, which returned to our screens the other night and will run through the growing season right up to the start of autumn.
In the same way our gardens naturally involve so does the programme and there will be a few new faces joining the team alongside those more familiar. The best news is that we are back filming in the Beechgrove garden itself, understandably not fully but the world feels back on it’s axis now that Carole Baxter will be back gardening where she belongs.
Head gardener Mairi will be coming out from behind the camera this series starting off by showing us how she and her team managed to reclaim the garden after being unable to attend it last year.
I’ve been lucky enough to know George Anderson since my time working as a gardener at the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh, a true gentleman with an almost encyclopaedic horticultural knowledge. Like Carole, we are lucky to have him sharing his knowledge with us which we will get to see more from what he tells us is the sunniest place in the country at Joppa.
Last year Kirsty opened our eyes to the modern world of house plants but I bet she is relieved to be getting outdoors again showing us what also can be done with an allotment space other than growing veg.
New kid on the block
There’s a new kid on the block in Calum Clunie, we caught a glimpse of him last year and I for one can’t wait to see more of this talented young veg grower who will be taking us into the world of growing for showing. Whilst the programme will also be following the fantastic career progress of Sophie McKilligan from her allotment in Aberdeen to now working in one of the top gardens in the country at Culzean Castle.
Highly talented Chris Beardshaw will be on hand to give us the benefit of his vast experience including design tips for which he has won many awards. Finally I feel privileged to be a part of this team again for another season where from my own patch I’ll be trying to garden sustainably and from Beechgrove, looking at the differences between old and modern day varieties of veg amongst other things.
‘Mr Beechgrove’ Jim McColl would always say ‘every day’s a school day’ about gardening and he couldn’t be more correct. Whenever I’m looking to build on my knowledge as well as media I often start straight with the plant growers themselves, visiting their nurseries and the garden centres that sell their plants.
There’s no others better placed to help us chooses the right plant for the right place than these growers themselves, our gardens and lives will be a duller place without them.