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.
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.