Ihad an passion for the great outdoors since a very early age. I remember as a youngster watching when hundreds of tiny spiders appeared and spread their webs in a frenzied manner over the web. I had always wanted to plant a veg garden but my parents weren’t sure what to do, so I threw carrot seeds into the ground without thinking hoping for the most successful. As I tried to be as normal as I could in school, my not-so-cool fascination waned – until I was in my late 20s, when I began to experiment with the cultivation of vegetables in my backyard garden.
As I enter my fifties, I often hear people saying “you’re gardening? Aren’t you too old to be doing this?” While I increasingly like hearing the words “aren’t you too old?”, the idea that “this” is something that should be enjoyed by the older generation both enthuses and frustrates.
Thankfully, the landscape is beginning to change with an increasing variety of initiatives aiming to increase awareness of and encouraging a positive connection to the natural world. Growing Wild’s youth takeover exhibit which opens this day (June 24,) and running through September 9 on Summerhall located in Edinburgh is an excellent illustration. The exhibition is an element of the Grow Wild campaign the national outreach program that is part of Kew Gardens that is the largest ever wildflower campaign in the UK. Young artists between 12 to 25, were asked to write a plan of the ways they could highlight in artwork the dire situation of wildflowers and their meadow habitats (97 percent have been destroyed since the 1930s) as well as the butterflies, bees, and other insects that rely on them to feed. The resultant artwork that includes everything from poetry and embroidery, to sculptures and steel-band music, makes an impressive tribute to wildflowers.
Freya Cohen’s pollinator artwork for Grow Wild. Photograph: Clare Hewitt for Grow Wild
The 12 finalists who’s work will be displayed at Summerhall were each awarded PS500 to develop their art to be displayed in the exhibition. Freya Cohen who is among the featured artists, draws attention to the issue of pollinators’ suffering in her artwork. “I wanted to do something fun with this project, but something that would also give me a chance to talk to people about the problems pollinators face and why it’s so important to protect them,” she said. “That’s why I picked the solitary bees. Many people don’t have any idea about them, and I wanted to identify a way to highlight their beauty and diversity.”
Anyone can participate in the campaign to protect wildflowers by planting an online seed to raise awareness. To thank them the participants will also be taken part in an award draw for the chance to take home the prize of a Forest Holiday worth PS500.
If you’re at RHS Tatton Park in the coming month, that you’ll meet the horticultural stars that are to come through the doors from this year’s RHS Young Designer competition which has evolved into a platform for young talents. The winner of last year’s competition was Caitlin McLaughlin collaborated with multi-award-winning design expert Sarah Eberle at RHS Chelsea this year, securing the 72nd consecutive gold medal for the nursery large Hillier Finalist in 2015. Kate Saville and 2015 winner Tamara Bridge also teamed up to design Tamara Bridge’s Jo Whiley Scent Garden for Chelsea’s BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens.
Jake Curley’s garden concept for the RHS Young Designer of the Year contest.
This year’s event’s theme is urban greening with young gardeners being asked to show how a blend of office and garden is to the participants. I love the age of 25 Jake Curley‘s garden particularly and envision myself in that garden while I type away on my laptop. It’s intended to be a useful space in a natural setting that will boost the creativity and joy of a person and happiness. What else could you possibly want!
Students are at Varnden School in Brighton tending one of their growing areas for vegetables. Photograph: Kim Stoddart
I am convinced that horticulture, specifically, fruit and vegetable production, should be a part of the curriculum at school It is educational as well as an opportunity to relax from the demands that students are facing. It’s a good thing that more and more institutions and universities are establishing gardens and other clubs within their grounds. I was particularly thrilled to find out recent that one these is my former college in Brighton, Varndean secondary school..
It’s true that gardening is fun and exciting particularly if you are able how to tackle things in your own way instead of following conventional guidelines. What’s not to love about the possibility of creating something beautiful (and in my opinion, most likely edible) from a small seed? It’s an empowering experience. It’s also a source of nourishment and you don’t need an area to weave garden-related magic into your lives. It would be nice to return and reclaim the lost green fingers of my childhood!