Anne Hailes: Growing interest in gardening
GREEN gyms, allotment gardens, garden centers, even the queen is there. As you sow you will reap and this is the time of year to think about preparing the land, planting the bulbs, crushing flowering bushes, and giving the grass the final cut. There is one thing about gardening, it never stops and it always changes.
As the poet Minnie Aumonier wrote: “When the world gets tired and society fails to satisfy it, there is always the garden.
We recently heard about Green Gyms, a project run by Community Volunteers across Northern Ireland. The idea is to get out in the fresh air and take care of helping the environment while also helping yourself by making new friends and watching nature unfold over the weeks.
Each of you benefits – mentally, emotionally and physically, stay in shape without having to master a treadmill, forget about loneliness, enjoy company and fresh air.
At the same time, these gyms offer free skills and training classes with qualified instructors. Besides planting and nurturing flowers and bushes, you could build dry stone walls, build a pond, or maybe the slightly mysterious “living willow structures”.
Then there’s the Billion Seed Challenge, as Alan Titchmarsh invites us to sow wildflower seeds over the next few weeks; if it was Monty Don, I would be more likely to go get many packages.
Even the queen is involved. She can’t wait for us to plant trees this month so they’ll grow well in time for her Platinum Jubilee next year. Have you noticed that closer to your home, in some places, nice neighbors cut low foliage to place small, colorful bedding plants around the base of the trees at the side of the road, creating miniature gardens and giving something to smile about.
:: Since the start of confinement
Last year, people turned to their gardens for something to do and slowly the interest grew until the hobby turned into a fanatic pastime.
On a rainy Friday last week I went to visit the senior supervisor working at Creative Gardens near Donaghadee and the parking lot was packed with cars as customers walked around the store inside, drinking coffee and looking for plants suitable for winter growing and harvesting Jeff Meredith Brain – so do I. And the answer is there is a lot to offer with heather and cyclamen at the top of the list.
I first met Jeff back when the theater was golden and there were the first nights to celebrate and he and his partner were still there. We formed a friendship and particularly supported each other during the spooky night we spent in the Grand Opera House chasing ghosts.
He had a fascinating career during this time working in the meteorological office. One of his responsibilities was to launch weather balloons in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands. The Met Office launches 4,300 balloons each year from various locations in the UK; I learned from him that remarkably these rise to the edge of space and then return with measurements of temperature, humidity, wind and atmosphere to prepare forecasts as well as monitor climate change.
I also learned that in the civil service he was a team leader for the Prince’s Trust team program on a one-year secondment.
However, after 10 years, this man of action decided on a change and took him to St George’s Market in Belfast where his stall was the talk of the city.
“I was selling everything Northern Ireland, coasters showing famous landmarks like Giant’s Causeway and the Grand Opera, mugs with local references like Tayto and Punjana Tea, famous golfers and of course Goliath, the shipyard crane. “
Keychains and tea towels with Ulsterisms – Bout U, Away On, What’s The Craic, Ye Boy Ye. Keep it on. “Tourists wanted to know what those words were about, ‘What does that mean? Was the question I was asked the most. “
There was always a crowd around Jeff, prominent people and politicians, locals shopping to send these keepsakes to their families overseas.
“I was overjoyed the day the Game of Thrones cast came to browse, but I was a little upset when Susan Boyle walked past without a sidelong glance.”
Another 10 years later and following the foreclosure, he turned his back on St George’s for new pasture.
“I always felt at home in a garden, as a teenager I made my pocket money cutting grass and pruning roses, I had my own garden and probably the most important of all, in the 70s I worked with my grandfather at the Bangor market. ” It’s in the blood.
:: Enclosed garden of Bangor castle
Not far from Bangor Market is this Victorian Garden, one of Co Down’s most popular attractions with thousands of visitors enjoying the peaceful strolls each year, but there is more than it seems.
Ards and North Down Borough Council works with Newtownards-based charity The Warehouse, which benefits from donations of fruit and vegetables grown in the garden.
Each week, the charity collects items from the Bangor Garden as well as additional produce donated by local food retailers, then their kitchen prepares nutritious meals for those in need and provides around 1,400 boxes of food through Ards and North Down, the majority of which are distributed by volunteer drivers.
Warehouse Community Team Leader Tracy McVea explained, “Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen our food box distribution triple and we’ve had to hire a full-time chef to keep up with demand. “
The charity, which runs a number of initiatives including a ‘Wear’ n ‘Share’ clothing program, supports people with mental health problems, the elderly and those who have been victims of domestic violence ; no reference is required so that anyone can contact them.
Share the seeds of success in different ways during difficult times.