In March I wrote about the garden closing just as the spring bulbs were blooming. Today, the garden re-opened in early summer: we are harvesting gooseberries and cutting roses. More than any other time, the last three months have shown that gardens are for people, not just gardeners.
As a gardener working in a shut public garden this spring, you will have never worked so hard. Our teams are small, our workload is seasonally enormous. If you are a head gardener, like me, you'll have been working in the borders, re-discovering groups of muscles, developing your lower back tan and trying to keep up with your team. I have confirmed and re-confirmed to myself most days why I became a gardener - moments of joy and satisfaction interspersed with impossible frustration in a beautiful place with limitless creative potential. Noisy birdsong accompanies our arrival at 7am and has not quietened all day. It's been the sunniest spring ever.
Every day my colleagues alongside me have confirmed their strength and resolve to garden well and with flair, they have been generous with their energy, their laughter and their baking. Our tiny team is more than the sum of its parts. When joined by a small group of volunteers a few weeks ago, our capacity to re-open the garden with pride grew further.
Today, when our visitors entered the garden they would see a softer space in parts – a gentle formality due to time available. Eagle-eyed visitors will notice gaps in planting. There are 32 pots empty this year. My hope is that what everybody senses in every area of the garden is the pleasure taken in their return. Dead-heading, weeding, mowing, feeding, raking, planting, hedge-cutting, staking and even compost turning, is for people. Welcome back, thank you for waiting, it’s (y)our garden.
" More than any other time, the last three months have shown that gardens are for people, not just gardeners."