I generally find us gardeners a friendly bunch anyway but since I’ve started presenting on Beechgrove and writing a column for this brilliant magazine every weekend, I’ve enjoyed stopping to chat with more folk and hearing about their gardens.
A few weeks ago I was back home in St Andrews getting to go the one step further this time and actually into their gardens, with their permission of course, for the pleasure of being shown around by their owners as part of judging their entry into the community council garden competition.
I love how this is still on the go around the country and back after last years COVID interruption, it’s nice to have a bit of friendly competition with the neighbours in your community.
It was heart warming to see gardeners of all ages taking part too- keen amateurs, those with young families, old hands and especially great to see some new gardeners. When listening to them talk about their gardens you could sense how proud they were of their own little patch and quite right too.
I must say these gardeners were all extremely humble considering the high standards I was enjoying looking at.
It was nice to see just how different their gardens were, each reflecting all of their own gardening tastes- tubs and hanging baskets displays to natural looking gardens with curving borders of mixed plantings under shrubs and trees.
I must confess I was never expecting to visit one charming garden centred around a green tone, focusing on the qualities of plants other than just flowers.
The garden was brilliantly divided into rooms separated by hedging, a very clever trick to use making a not particularly large garden feel a lot larger than it actually was.
I may have been there to judge but I certainly took away with me a few tips and ideas.
These aren’t show type gardens of Rhs Chelsea Flower Show we’re talking about here, but gardens passionately created by good, honest gardeners and I urge all of you to join in the fun next year and put your garden forward to your local community competition. You just never know…
I’d also like to mention some very special children gardeners who I had the pleasure of meeting.
I could tell by their beaming smiles just how much joy they are getting from being outdoors not just with plants but also with the bees, butterflies and associated nature that comes with gardening.
There was a while I was worrying where the next gardeners were coming from but after meeting these youngsters, I know the future of horticulture is in safe hands.
Gardening has always been one of our nations favourite hobbies but with the advancement of technology of the years there is no doubt the number of folk taking up the trowel has weaned.
Over the last couple of years there has been a re-understanding of just how important a connection with nature can be good for our mental well being which has made many more of us seek solace in our gardens again.
When you start to dig a little deeper you soon see that gardening seems to have a magical way of bringing people and communities together.
When you’re walking through your high street admiring the baskets hanging from lampposts and the colourful displays in the large planters, have you ever wondered how they got there?
When you’re sitting on the bus or driving to work and you see a small party in yellow vests tidying beds outside hospitals, swimming pool or at the end of the street, have you ever wondered who they are?
I can tell you these are our friends and neighbours, folk that only live a few doors down or around the corner from us who give up their time freely only for the reward of seeing the skills and talents they have being used to make the places we stay nicer for us to live in.
And whilst brightening up our spaces they are also working with local groups, schoolchildren and those with additional support needs using gardening as therapy to work together in mini projects or planting days.
All the while helping to raise awareness of environmental issues, instilling in this next generation how to think of others and have pride in their community too.
Simple gardening is doing all this.
Community Councils, ‘in-bloom’ groups and gardening clubs are just some of the guises that they work under and who are always looking for more helpers to lend a hand. Not just for their gardening skills either as there are always joinery, painting and admin work needing done too.
As the summer season draws to a close and those tending the seasonal bedding displays earn a well-deserved rest, now seems a fitting time to pass on our thanks for the work they are doing.
However as all gardeners know, this is just the beginning to thinking about next years display and if you were to lend a hand who knows, next year it could be Rhs Chelsea!