A reality check on RHS advice, April 27-May 3
National Gardening Week takes place every year at this time, but 2020’s event has had to have a rethink due to the COVID-19 lockdown – and who knows, it may just achieve more than was ever hoped for.
Run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), its usual call is to get more people into gardening, using its four gardens as well as advice for your own plot.
Obviously, Hyde Hall, Harlow Carr, Wisley and Rosemoor gardens are all shut for the foreseeable future and people have naturally turned to their gardens in the current crisis.
Now, the RHS is asking people to get out into their gardens or balconies as a way to look after their physical health and wellbeing.
Green up your life
‘Keep gardening’ is the message, especially important for those spending more time at home at the moment as it’s a great mood-boosting exercise and the sense of achievement you get is priceless.
A recent OnePoll survey commissioned by the RHS showed that 52 per cent of people in Britain have experienced feeling alone but more than half of adults enjoy being surrounded by greenery and a further 53 per cent said it boosts their mood.
If you’re new to gardening, you may not have a clue on how to start. Here are the RHS’s online ideas. Unfortunately, they don’t reflect the reality at the moment. Below each one is my experiences on how to navigate the restrictions on businesses at the minute:
‘Order some seeds and soil online to get growing some beautiful plants and flowers’
Online seed companies and plant nurseries have been overwhelmed by new orders, supplier shortages and many have daily restrictions, as they cannot fulfil orders working with social distancing to keep staff safe. If you can, support these small companies.
Compost is like gold dust at the minute – I put in an order well before lockdown and it took nearly a month to arrive.
Most garden centres are closed unless they have food outlets that have a takeaway function. However, some smaller firms are offering ‘click and collect’ services or home delivery following social distancing rules.
It goes against the very core of my being but supermarkets are making a killing here, with compost (I heard one man at Lidl asking for a full pallet of their compost), bedding plants and seeds. Please try and support local business before you resort to big chains which know nothing about plants.
‘Choose a gorgeous house plant to ‘green up’ a room in your house’
Pretty much see above – you may have more luck with house plant nurseries online, as they don’t have such peaks and troughs in their year. Buy some simple herbs for cooking and grow them indoors on your window sill or in pots outside.
Again, house plants are all over the supermarkets. Do see if local nurseries will do ‘click and collect’ or home delivery.
‘Do a bit of weeding or deadheading to relax and get some fresh air’
No problems supply-wise with this one but it assumes you have a garden, have established plants and know the basics!
‘Learn about gardening by chatting to others on the phone and online’
‘Share your passion for growing plants by texting or posting pictures of plants with friends’
Take pride in your labours – you don’t have to be the best photographer in the world. The simple act of contact with others will help you get through this time.
For more information, visit www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk/About