Embracing Changes

Just this week The RHS have announced that the 2021 Chelsea Flower Show will be moved from May to September when it is hoped that the levels of covid infections will have reduced substantially to keep staff, showers and growers safe.

I’ve only ever been to Chelsea once and very much enjoyed the spectacle. I have to be honest though, ever since that visit I’ve enjoyed it very much more by watching the coverage on TV from my sofa!

This change in timing is causing quite a hoo-hah in the horticultural world and it got me thinking about the relevance of such a show to us back-garden gardeners. Think of Chelsea like the couture catwalk fashion shows in London, Milan and New York. They’re exciting and innovative and although out of reach financially for the majority of us and sometimes more than a little oddball, if you look at the small details; the textures, the colours and the materials used there is inspiration for even the smallest of spaces and budgets.

One of the positives to come out of the last year has been the creativity that has happened because we’ve had to change how we normally do things. I’m quite excited about the change in timing for Chelsea on lots of different levels. Firstly, September is usually when our Summer gardens are in full bloom, so plants that wouldn’t normally be used in May might well come to the forefront. I’m also hoping that Chelsea starts to become more sustainable – lots of energy (labour and fuel) is put into getting plants ready in time for a May Chelsea so perhaps this year’s diary change can lead to a longer-term change in the practices used to have less of an environmental impact.

I’m hoping that this forced change leads to a general shake-up to see what else can be done differently at Chelsea and the other big shows.
Most of us love tradition, but it’s hard to identify when tradition has become a rut.

Perhaps you’ve fallen into your own gardening ruts. What could you be doing differently to shake things up?

• It could be just by growing something different

• Or by buying peat-free compost for your pots

• It could be by reducing the amount you cut your lawn to encourage wildlife

• And spending the time you’re not mowing on growing what you like to eat from seed

I met a woman last week to discuss making changes to her garden. She has a problem with Ground Elder in one of her beds and spends hours weeding it every year and was quite despondent about it. I suggested leaving it! You’ll never get rid of Ground Elder – it is the bane of many gardeners’ lives … however much you pull it out it will always return. I suggested she leave it to act as a groundcover, perhaps just thinning it out in areas where there are other smaller plants. It’s got quite a pretty white flower in the Spring and leaving it meant she had more time to do other things. She was astounded I should suggest such a thing but then gave me the biggest smile when the thought of what she could be doing instead!
It’s hard sometimes to recognise a self-made tradition … I challenge you to think about your own and what changes you could make!

Renée is a gardener, designer and maker. The changes she is going to make this year include giving up on growing runner beans “my Dad grows them better than me and I’m the only one that will eat them in my house!” You can read more about her work at: www.thegirlwhogardens.co.uk


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