Home Gardening news Dig for Victory photos plea

Dig for Victory photos plea

A woman and a Westminster Civil Defence Warden spread manure on their allotment in Kensington Gardens, 1942. Behind them, the Albert Memorial can be seen
A woman and a Westminster Civil Defence Warden spread manure on their allotment in Kensington Gardens, 1942. Behind them, the Albert Memorial can be seen

RHS to mark 80 years since start of World War II

Do you have any photos of your family’s wartime vegetable gardens or allotments?

If so, the RHS is calling on people to submit pictures to be included in exhibitions to mark 80 years since the outbreak of World War II and the Dig for Victory campaign.

Advisory material and propaganda that inspired people to grow more food will be on display at its library and its four gardens in the autumn.

The RHS began working with the Ministry of Agriculture on the Dig for Victory campaign when war broke out in 1939 – detailed plans began in 1938.

Chart inside Ministry of Agriculture leaflet on how to grow vegetables all year. Picture; RHS Lindley Collections
Chart inside Ministry of Agriculture leaflet on how to grow vegetables all year. Picture; RHS Lindley Collections

Help for non-gardeners

The advice was distributed in pamphlets, leaflets and exhibition packs that toured towns and villages and included guides to cultivating vegetables all year round, storing produce and making a compost heap.

Gardeners had to be creative – workers at Wolsey Motors in Birmingham made cloches out of scrap car windscreens for their workplace allotment.

By 1943, about 55 per cent of households were growing fruit and vegetables.

Fiona Davison, Head of Libraries and Collections at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “RHS information and advice helped get a nation growing at a time when food supplies were at an historic low.

Prolific green spaces

“Many are likely to recall parents and relatives turning previously unloved plots into efficient and prolific green spaces.

“We’re asking the public to share those pictures and memories with us so we can celebrate the contribution of gardening to our wartime history.”

Dig for Victory will be on display at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon, RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex and RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire from October 14-November 17.

For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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