The English Garden magazine is a favourite read in the AMPG studio, so I couldn’t have been more thrilled when Editorial Assistant Phoebe Jayes telephoned to ask me if she could interview me for their regular ‘People to Meet’ feature, introducing the gardeners and public figures they most admire in British Horticulture. An unexpected compliment indeed.
This was also an opportunity for me to chat with them about my personal lockdown project which has genuinely helped me get through (and continues to do so!).
It all began on 23rd March 2020, as the news announced the beginning of a national lockdown across the UK. I stood in my kitchen and wept.
Instinctively, I opened the garden door and stepped out into the unimaginable warmth of this unusual March, and reminded myself just how fortunate I was to have a garden to stay home and stay safe in.
We’d had the builders in for much of the previous year and my garden looked forlorn, neglected, and in need of some love. My garden needed me, and suddenly I needed it.
I reached for a spade, put my trust in Mother Earth and started to dig out the weeds.
Immediately I had a focus, a goal, cloaked in my garden wonderland which carried on growing and evolving all around me when the rest of the world was suddenly put on hold.
But, as an extrovert, I needed company, like-minded conversation, a focus and something to make me accountable to keep me going, renovating my spurned garden.
I decided to go live on Instagram that lunchtime and after the first real foray into the world of social media broadcasting, I just kept on going.
Each day at 12:30, fellow gardeners came to chat, share, laugh, cry and spur each other on. I had found my tribe in @myrealgarden and all around the globe a community of gardeners came together as we waited for our blooms to open, revelled in our garden birds, bees and other wildlife, for our vegetables to swell. Our gardens made every day less difficult to bear, gave us back some control, the opportunity to nurture and something to look forward to.
I wondered how this unique, wonderful experience that gave us our sense of wellbeing back to us could perhaps help others to experience the same vitality, determination and joy? A book seemed the obvious choice.
And so, the My Real Garden book was born. A new kind of gardening book and I think the first of its kind. Crowdfunded by people, FOR people. In its pages, people open their garden gates and let others in. People like you who have experienced their gardens helping them physically, and spiritually, to appreciate what they have. A book that celebrates the wonder of the natural world, the intimacy and the joy, the colour, the laughter and the learning that gardens and gardening provide us.
The first books will be available on March 23rd 2021, a full year after I first went live from my real garden. My co-editor, coincidentally once an ‘The English Garden’ Editor herself, Tamsin Westhorpe and I have pulled together the tips, advice, photographs and stories from a host of gardeners keen to pass their passion on, provide delight and inspire.
The whole experience really has been a very special kind of magic.
You can follow @myrealgarden on Instagram here.
And the whole ‘People to Meet’ feature is on our Media Gallery here.