National gardening week

Ade Sellars of award-winning bloggers Agents of Field explains why we should all get involved with national Gardening Week

Colour is gently seeping into allotments and gardens, signaling spring is here. Grey winter beds now a distant memory. Replaced with eager onion sets in regimented rows, standing firm in freshly made beds. Below ground, dozing potatoes stir. Whilst high on weathered poles, fresh peapods clamber skywards. In the garden, early flowers wave their frills in the wind. From tulip to rising allium, every single bloom flirting for our attention.

With so much to catch your eye this month, one thing that shouldn’t pass you by is, National Gardening Week.

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An RHS idea sown six years ago, year on year, it’s grown into ‘the country’s biggest celebration of gardening’. From individual gardeners, charities to heritage organisations, people come together to show off their green fingers. Workshops, garden parties or allotment barbecues, there’s something for everyone. Organize your own event or participate in others, they’ll point you in the right direction.

As this year’s theme is ‘encouraging new gardeners to get involved’, it’s an ideal opportunity to inspire children. In a changing climate, we’ve never needed them more.

You’d think horticulture is a healthy industry. Countless gardening magazines on shop shelves, weathered gardening presenters making horticulture effortless, and ever-growing Twitter and Instagram feeds of veg-growing amateurs (you can never have too many photos of a bee on a sunflower). However, the reality is quite sobering. Allotments threatened from potential developers. Bees are on the decline due to agriculture techniques. Supermarkets monopoly on mass produce, and the waste created over quantity rather than quality. It’s no secret horticulture salaries fall short of many other industries. So what’s there to excite the next generation into taking up the spade and fork? It’s clear; we’re standing at a horticultural crossroad.

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Nevertheless, National Gardening Week is an opportunity to help stop the rot. We’re gardeners, we nurture and grow. From the moment that seed falls into our hands, we treasure and encourage it. If it wonders, we can train it into something healthy, whilst developing strong roots. Then one day, hopefully, we’ll see it bloom and fruit.

The idea is simple, Invest in children! Open that Garden of Eden, you hold so close, to them. Let them play! Let them make mistakes, but most of all let them think. By triggering interest, passion develops, and from passion, love will evolve.

It’s our role to become ringmasters of our gardens, showing off wonders, and creating a sense of awe. Let them pick freshly grown strawberries, dig a random hole or hold a wriggly worm. Show them how to sow, plant and water. Sunflowers are always a winner. Easy to grow, they have immediate rewards. Measuring the height daily, or guess the colour of its petal, are games that cost nothing. Even a simple pot of basil seeds on a windowsill, can hold court for a growing season. They’re investing in something, and taking responsibility for its wellbeing.

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We know children don’t play by your rules, but why should they? When they’re little wellies innocently trample on your newly sown bed. Bite your tongue and hold in check all gardening instincts. It’s a time to encourage not scold. Children have imaginations we can only yearn for. If they not gardening, they can draw, sing, read or talk about it.

Seeing your child eating fresh vegetables is gratifying, but seeing them learn where they came from is something precious. There are no mistakes in gardening, only creative thinking. So go on, let them get their hands dirty.

National Gardening Week runs from the 10th–16th April. For further information, and how to get involved, please go to:

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Steve Ott
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