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Why women grow

I listened to a very interesting Grow Cook Inspire podcast hosted by Helen Cross this morning, featuring the topic of ‘Why Women Grow’, a new book by journalist and horticulturist, Alice Vincent or @noughticulture if you’re on Instagram. Initially listening out of a vague curiosity, found my attention caught by Alice’s stories of people’s gardening journeys; a drag queen turned market gardener; people who have gardened in the same place for decades, describing how a garden has changed as she ‘learned to lose control’ of the space; a way to express yourself and a form of art therapy. How Helen herself turned to gardening as a relief for depression and anxiety and others created gardens in response to grief and loss. ‘The ground can carry things that nothing else can’, says Alice.

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Liz’s garden

I can relate to all of this; I started to garden when I moved to London in my early twenties and had a tiny 6m x 1m plot outside our flat, into which I poured hours, money and love and have gardened ever since. The seed of gardening was undoubtedly sown by my parents who created a beautiful garden – not that I ever helped! They passed away when I was in my mid-twenties, and raising young families and gardening were the two things that kept my brother, sister and I together, even living far apart, and a salve for that sense of loss. Gardening is still a huge point of connection for my sister (a wonderful gardener) and I and although she lives in the far north and I near Edinburgh, we spend summer evenings pacing our respective gardens, phone in hand and telling each other how the garden’s growing. 

For me, gardening is all about connections – I have great friends where our point of connection is that shared love of gardening and the excitement of zipping off together to visit a garden, nursery, sharing seedlings and plants. There’s nothing nicer than discovering that shared interest and swapping plant chat – a definite bonus in my job with the Garden Scheme where I am fortunate to meet many incredible gardeners! But also wonderful is the sense of losing myself in the garden, a Saturday plugged into a podcast, absorbed in whatever task takes my fancy and my inner thoughts.  It’s always calming after a busy week and is my creative outlet. And although perhaps a bit of a control freak myself, am learning to lose control of my space and my garden is grounding in every sense of the word.

Why do you grow? We’d love to hear from you –

Do have a listen to Helen’s Grow Cook Inspire podcast, available on Spotify or Instagram and Alice’s book, ‘Why Women Grow, Stories of Soil, Sisterhood and Survival’ is coming out in March.