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This Week’s Guest Blogger is by The Rev’d Canon Carl Fredrik Arvidsson

One day from being a very busy and active person I woke up and I new something was wrong. I was diagnosed within an a few months with an incurable cancer. Yippee! Working at Canterbury Cathedral and the King’s School I was very active and then for a year ended up in a wheelchair having had a stem cell transplant and now registered disabled.
Since being ill my healing garden has been my saviour in many ways and my fields where I created an acre for wild flowers. I remember reading that  ‘The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.’
Being in hospital for months and having very strong chemotherapy I started to plan my ‘Quiet Healing Pond Garden’ I am not in a wheelchair right now but I am in pain most of the day and can’t walk far and do much but with help I give orders and my wife and friends love me! I hope the do?
When diagnosed with cancer, your priorities in life have to change. It isn’t about work, money or how many branded goods you can buy any more.
It’s the simple things in life that can make you happy, like spending time in the garden, visiting NGS , enjoying delicious food that you grow from your vegetable patch and then sharing it with family and friends. I still have friends!
I am learning to accept my condition and move forward what ever time I have left be it a week or 10 years. Once you’ve changed your perspective, the hunger for fame or fortune diminishes or even disappears, and you realise you can be happy with much less.
It seems to me that cancer patients who live the longest have learnt how to be content. They have few wants and needs. They lead simple lives, they garden, eat simply and have zero stress.
I now don’t think of cancer as a death sentence. It’s not the end. There are many treatment options available today. Rather, treat it like a chronic illness. If you suffer a relapse, trust your doctor to keep it under control through surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
As as a priest my first priority is to be prescribe a proven medical treatment based on evidence. It’s only after I have received evidence-based help that I will try alternative treatments. The garden is now part of my healing treatment and a bit of Forrest Therapy. Nature never lets you down!
Of course, the process isn’t easy. It takes time to accept a cancer diagnosis, usually about six months after treatment. In the meantime, patients should not put things off. They should should get out in the garden or nature, live fulfilling lives, so that when the time comes – whether it is today, tomorrow, five or 10 years from now – they will pass on from this existence with no regrets. Get out in the Garden!

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Ilena Gilbert-Mays

My Love For Gardening

My love for gardening began at an early age and my mother was a huge influence. As a child I can remember her endlessly planting daffodils along the base of the fence, creating a border of yellow that was truly beautiful to the eyes of a young girl. I can also remember the many varieties of bearded irises she planted thru out the back yard that created islands of color every where that one would care to look. When I attended high school, I took as many horticulture classes that I could, and followed up with an associates degree in horticulture from Fayetteville Technical Institute

My husband and myself eat a a lot of fresh produce and growing organic vegetables in a raised no dig bed is very important to me. I live in coastal North Carolina, in growing zone eight so it is possible to grow vegetables year round. Right now I have celery, collards, kale,and a few carrots. I have a compost bin that is located inside my chicken run that not only supplies me with rich organic soil, but is also full of big, healthy worms. These worms help with the health of my garden and keep my chickens happy.

I also have a very large informal flower garden with lots of unusual flower varieties and some old favorites. I have several varieties of ginger, some of them edible. I also grow sugar cane and several different varieties banana plants, that are hardy. Not all my banana plants can live outside, some of them along with my Ponderosa Lemon Tree and Australian Finger Limes have to spend the winter in my greenhouse, which I will write about later. Another added benefit are the pollinators that visit my garden every spring and summer. So many different butterflies, bees and wasps.

After several years of looking at hobby greenhouses, my husband finally installed one three years ago. If I had known how much of difference it would make in what I could grow, and what it could do for me, I would have installed one years ago. Not only do I keep the finger lime trees and lemon trees here during the winter, this is where I keep my ever growing collection of cactus and succulents and exotic ginger plants. It has also been a great stress reliever at the end of a long day. My citrus trees bloom all winter long and citrus blooms are my favorite scent. To be able to sit and take in the calmness of the
greenhouse, the earthy, citrus smell at the end of a difficult day, is something I always look forward to.

Thank you for allowing me to share my joy of plants and gardening. Please feel free visit my twitter account, @ilenagm

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Mike Rogers, an allotmenteer, armchair gardener, blogger and sofa flying book buff who writes Flighty’s Plot

Pot Marigolds

Much as I like to grow soft fruit and vegetables on my Flighty’s plot allotment (https://flightplot.wordpress.com) it’s annual flowers that I really enjoy growing. In recent years I’ve grown California Poppies, Candytuft, Cornflowers, Cosmos, Love-in-a-Mist, Nasturtiums, Poached Egg Plants, Pot Marigolds and Sunflowers. As I don’t have a greenhouse and limited windowsill space at home I sow nearly all the seeds direct in the spring.  At the end of the season I collect and save seeds from most of them, let some self-seed and buy a few new ones.  My favourites are the pot marigolds which are a mix of varieties, to which I’ll be adding a packet of Playtime Mix  which won an award for consistent quality with a fine mix of single, semi-double and double flowers in bright, buff and pastel colours. I’ll also be trying the delightfully named Oopsy Daisy, which is a dwarf variety with bi-coloured flowers in a range of bright oranges and creamy yellows. The description for the Mixture of Varieties in the Chiltern Seeds Grow something new from seed catalogue says – To bring back fun into gardening, this is a jolly mixture to brighten gardens, lives and outlooks.  Who could ask for more?  My plot is rather exposed so I generally grow the knee-high sunflowers Musicbox.  This year I’ll also be growing the slightly taller variety Sonja, which has dark-centred, golden-orange blooms.  These are shown as being excellent for cutting, and I’m hoping that they’ll be good enough to exhibit at my local horticultural society’s annual show in early September.

Sunflower

I’m always a touch apprehensive when I sow the nasturtiums Tom Thumb Mixedas the Chiltern Seeds catalogue description states – If you can’t grow these then you’d better give up gardening as a hobby. Thankfully so far they’ve always germinated, grown and flowered.Have a floriferous 2020!

Nasturtiums

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Andrew Oldham who writes Life on Pig Row – down to earth gardening and cooking on a hillside with the Oldham family. He is A Garden Media Guild member and was a Finalist 2019

How Can You Be A Gardener?

www.lifeonpigrow.co.uk

The emphasis is often on the ‘you’ when this question is asked. It seems being disabled and a gardener confuses certain people. I became disabled after an accident in my late twenties and I was advised by consultant take up gardening but not to dig or lift. Digging and lifting had put me off gardening as a child. Back in the 1980s, I was an unwilling helper on my Dad’s allotment and gardening seemed to be all about weeding, spades, and heavy sacks of stuff that smelt funny. Gardening taught me patience during a dark period of my life where I had to come to terms with not being able to walk, run or even move without some sort of assistance. Being disabled felt like being back in school because I was learning a new way of life that I didn’t want. I felt helpless.

So, I sowed a pot of beans cursing my consultant in a series of four-letter words. The four-letter rant lasted as I read the seed packet instructions. I overflowed four-letter words from the tips of my fingers as I jammed them into pots brimming with compost. I dropped the four-letter bean seeds in the four-letter holes and covered them over with four-letter compost. I cringe now to think of how angry I was and how much my disability has brought to me. As the seed leaves broke the surface of the soil and spiralled up, I felt pride and for the first time in a long time, faith in my own ability to win. The seven pots I sowed in my rage all germinated. If I could grow beans then anyone could. If anyone could build a garden, so could I.

I built a garden that embraced all of me, my disability, my health and my well-being. If I couldn’t lift then I would start small, if I couldn’t dig then I would grow plants that kept care of themselves like rhubarb, geraniums and aquilegias; I would find joy in the self-seeding plant. This was how the cottage garden was born from seeds, cuttings and division. Small plants that swelled and covered the soil. Geoff’s Garden, the potager named after my late Dad took me two years to build. The garden comprises of six raised wooden beds surrounded by gravel paths. This is my sit down on a stool and think vegetable garden.

This year I start to build a teaching garden to show people who ask, ‘How can you be a gardener?’ that we all can be gardeners. It just takes patience and time.

This Week’s guest Blogger is Julie Dunn

A Garden to Sleep in

During the Spring of 2017 I had a prolonged period off work in order to recover from a hysterectomy. The procedure was planned and I was determined to use the ‘spare’ time productively. Planning a design for a show garden seemed like a good idea, it would be therapeutic for me and involve garden design and plants without having to leave the armchair. I had started a garden design business 8 years earlier (a career change from cancer research) but found it hard to juggle a busy job, bringing up daughters aged 6 and 8 and seeing potential garden design clients at weekends. I never expected my show garden design to be accepted let alone win a silver medal at RHS Tatton Park 2018! Fast forward to the garden, which combined my passion for ‘science/wellbeing’ and ‘gardens/design’: the garden (named ‘Sleep Well’) focussed on the importance of sleep and green spaces to a person’s mental health.

It’s big ask to make a garden that will serve as a form of therapy. In effect that’s what my brief was to myself and I thought how great it would be to be commissioned to make therapeutic gardens for anyone. With Lifestyle Medicine being a hot topic, I decided to focus on one the four pillars of Lifestyle Medicine (EAT, SLEEP, MOVE, RELAX)- the show garden would be about sleep. Furthermore, to add theatre for the show, my garden would have an actual double bed in it! I imagined a GP prescribing: “What you need madam is a private garden with a bed with comforting quilt, and space for yoga on some grass”. You might laugh but Lifestyle Medicine is at the forefront of current clinical practice. In 2018 the Royal College of General Practitioners ran a course for GPs to teach them the principles of Lifestyle Medicine and how to deliver it to the NHS.

Sleep Well’ Garden illustration for the application to design a show garden for RHS Tatton Park 2018

To begin, I considered how to make it possible to relax enough to fall asleep in the garden. I would need to feel warm, safe (from the Betterware man/whoever else rings the front doorbell, the PPI person on the phone, the sun, the rain); pleasant smells are also on the list. To unwind requires slowing down, being ‘in the moment’ and mindful of one’s surroundings (which must therefore be calming too). So, I need softness, wafting forms, faint rustling sound and maybe some water. I was getting sleepy already. To add to this, I wanted the sky to be part of the garden to remind me that I am but a small speck in a vast universe and nothing REALLY matters that much. I would feel part of the garden and I would slow to its pace.

The reflective pool and other plants including tumbling Echinacea ‘Milkshake’, soft Santolina, fragrant Salvia purpurescens (purple sage) and Agastache ‘Black Adder’, airy Verbena bonariensis and tall Eupatorium in the background behind the bed

The planting would help create the mood, being comforting, calming, dreamlike and scented. I chose a limited colour palette to reflect the mood, and a variety of leaf/flower shapes, textures and heights. I commissioned a bespoke quilt to dress the bed, designed by textile artist Janet Haigh, the colours of which reflected the planting. Plants were chosen for three main height groups: tall, medium and low. The tall planting should disguise the fencing and over time (in theory of course- this couldn’t happen during show week!) make the bed look like it had grown from the garden with the plants. Medium and low planting would create ‘cushion’ shapes as well as allow for viewing the garden from the boundaries. Plants of one type will be placed in ‘drifts’ or small groups, next to drifts of complementary types. For example, amongst the ‘Santolina cushions’ would be the ‘airy Sanguisorba ’ providing movement; similarly, loose airy grasses would be used in the tall sections to complement Salvia Amistad. Verbena officinalis planted in the gravel will create a delicious lemony aroma, and Santolinas and Sage will complement this. The colour palette is limited by design to be calming but there is a ‘pop’ of colour from Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’ in the low beds, and Sanguisorba officinalis in the medium beds.

Calming planting enclosing the fully dressed inviting bed. The bespoke quilt was designed and made by textile artist Janet Haigh using Kaffe Fassett fabrics chosen to echo the planting including airy Verbena bonariensis, the rustling grasses Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ and Deschampsia ‘Goldtau’, and fragrant Salvia ‘Amistad’..

The ‘Sleep Well’ garden turned out to have multiple therapeutic benefits. Firstly, for me and my recuperation, secondly for the visitors to the show garden (especially the ones who tried the bed out!), thirdly for the service users at the autism centre where I donated and rebuilt the garden (Wirral Autism Together, Bromborough Pool garden Centre) www.autismtogether.co.uk, and lastly for anyone who listened to my podcast entitled ‘How sleep and green space can help your mental health’ by Dr Julie Dunn.

www.mentalhealth.org.uk › podcasts-and-videos


“Oh, and you never know, the light-hearted blog I published whilst designing and building the ‘Sleep Well’ garden might also be helping other stressed out show garden creators!

https://juliedunntattonshowgarden.wordpress.com

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Greg Loades The Editor at The Alpine Garden Society

Five handy tips for starting a new garden

Greg Loades’ Garden in July 2018
I moved into a new house with a tiny backyard in February 2018, in Hull, UK. It was a blank canvas except for a poppy and a few stray bulbs that appeared in spring. The fun of starting a new, tiny garden from scratch is that you very quickly see results. Although you also very quickly run out of room too! 
 
I’m learning to change areas of planting each year to keep the garden interesting. I’m a ‘doing’ kind of gardener and I soon get itchy feet if there isn’t a small project to tackle in the garden!
 
Have you moved to a new garden and you don’t know where to start? If so, here are five tips for starting a new garden, based on my experiences of my tiny garden in Hull!

 

Be ruthless

If there is something that’s growing in your garden but you don’t like it then get rid of it! The plant may be beautiful in its own right but if you wouldn’t have chosen it and you don’t like the colour or the style of it then be ruthless! You may be able to give it away to a neighbour too. I had an red Oriental poppy that popped up in the first year after starting my garden. It was a nice plant but it was far too big for my garden and looked out of proportion. So I dug it up and planted something smaller in its place.

 

Start with the biggest plants

Make a list of the plants that you would like to grow and then seek out the biggest ones and the evergreens first. If you can position and plant these ‘backbone’ plants in the garden, it’s easy to fill in the remaining space with shorter, free-flowering plants that can ‘colour in’ the garden. Pay close attention to what the size of the plant is (check the label) and make sure you give it enough room

 

Don’t start digging until you’ve had a spring

If you take over a garden in the winter, then there is a chance that the garden is holding a treasure chest of plants below the soil surface. Herbaceous perennials (plants that die down in winter and grow back in spring) can take until mid spring to appear so leave the soil undisturbed until then to give them a chance. There may also be some beautiful bulbs still to emerge too.

 

Prioritise prominent areas

Check to see which parts of the garden are going to be viewed the most from the house and get these planted and organised first. Looking out of the window and seeing progress or transformation in the garden helps create an impetus and enthusiasm to tackle the rest of the garden.

 

Look at the surrounding gardens

Be nosy and have a good look at the plants that are growing very well in neighbouring gardens. This can give you an indication of what will do well in yours. If acid-loving camellias and rhododendrons are growing well, it is an indication that the soil is acidic. If you are not sure what the plants close by are, ask your neighbour if they know the name. Research the plants to see what makes them thrive and then you can look for plants that like similar conditions. Choosing plants that suit the growing conditions (soil, climate, aspect) that you have will make growing them much easier.

Greg Loades’ garden in July 2019

See more pictures and updates from the garden on Instagram @hull_urban_gardener

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Andy Lopez owns ‘The Invisible Gardener’ and Radio Talk Show Host of ‘Don’t Panic! It’s Organic!’ at BBS Radio

The Mycelium Intelligence

Chain of Life

We all understand the concept of The Chain of Life. We usually think about how one creature eats another animal which then gets eaten by another creature, which in turn gets eaten by another, until we get to us. We are at the top of the chain, or are we?

We understood that, but did you ever think as to the beginning of the chain? The start of the chain of Life starts with the fungi, bacteria, and protozoa. These are the real Master Gardeners of our planet. As I mentioned before, they have been at this for a very long time, much longer than we have. Their Gardening skills are honed to perfection. All living things depend upon the Mycelium, and its ability to recycle the essential minerals and resources needed for healthy growth.

As a kid, I was always interested in these mushrooms that would pop up almost everywhere. I noticed that after rain, they would appear overnight. Several times, I would sit and watch. Over a few hours, they would be fully grown and right in front of my eyes.

Beautiful. I am not talking about magic mushrooms (this is another story), but of the many varieties that grow in the lawn, in your garden, in the forest. It is these workers that take the minerals and other essential nutrients and convert them into an assimilable nutrient rich in minerals.

As I mentioned before, plants learned that they are better at growing if they grow with their roots intertwined with the Mycelium than if they tried it on their own. As a matter of fact, eventually, all plants evolved so that Mycelium grew in the root hairs of their roots. This became a particular type of Mycelium that is working for the plant, taking the nutrients from the Mycelium Colony and passing it on to the plants. While plants can grow in soil without Mycelium (plants produce the proper waste that helps Mycelium grow), they will use their roots to locate the underground Mycelium colony and make a connection. They plug into the conscious mind of the Mycelium. The Mycelium will then expand its web weave to include the plant! The plant communicates with the Mycelium Mind, and they exchange information. What does the Mycelium get from this relationship? When the plant dies, it will become food for the Mycelium. It will digest and return all the minerals and recycle it back to itself as food, and it also feeds others.

The Mycelium have evolved to farm for their “food source” plants and indirectly insects as well as animals and even humans. Anything that dies and is returned to the earth becomes food for the microbial life.

Mycelium has been around for hundreds of millions of years. They have evolved into a very efficient organism. They can communicate within all of the intertwined roots of plants. They communicate with trees through this network. Trees communicate with each other through this network. Insects and animals are attracted to these areas. Insects will eat other insects especially if the bugs are getting mineral-rich food sources. Animals, in turn, are attracted to other mineral rich animals and plants. Lots of animals only eat plants (mineral rich), and they are prime food for animals to eat them and get the minerals. Whatever dies will be eaten by the fungi.

It’s Alive is the name of one of my radio shows. I started this show way back in 1984 when I first moved to Malibu. In it, I try to express to folks how important this hidden life is. The top soil is the “skin” of the Mycelium. Just as the skin of animals, humans, insects, etc., acts as an interface between the inside and the outside of our bodies, so too does top soil act as an interface between plants, animals, insects, everything!

Plants have deep roots as well as deep roaming roots. They seek Mycelium and Mycelium seeks these roots. There is a definite interaction between the Mycelium and the roots of the plant. As the plant grows, its roots encounter this Mycelium which almost immediately starts to provide nourishment and communication with other plants directly through this network.

Humans, Plants, and Mycelium bacteria have evolved together over the millions of years and have developed many ways of communication with each other. Yes, humans can communicate too with this Mycelium. Together, they provide for each other. The key to healthy life is minerals. Lacking one or more minerals will eventually cause big problems, leading to an unhealthy state. This is not just true for plants but all living things especially trees and animals and humans. Whether plant, insect, animal, or human, being unhealthy is a magnet for pests and diseases.

The Mycelium of the world is one living being

The Mycelium of the world is one living being and is responsible for many things of which the growth of mushrooms is one. Mushrooms digest minerals found in decaying insects, plants, animals (and humans) and convert it to usable forms-which the plants can assimilate and we, in turn, can also assimilate.

You are what you eat is the old saying. The fungi eat the minerals, which is consumed by the plants, which are then eaten by the animals which in turn is eaten by us. Humans also eat the plants directly. These fungi will also eat and convert into the proper minerals (anything that dies and encounters the “skin”) of the Mycelium. In essence we are Mycelium.

Thus, the Mycelium is the very start and end of the food chain. Now how cool is that? I often talk about how we are damaging and disrupting the top soil. By damaging and or removing this “skin,” we are destroying the Mycelium and this in turn hurts everything else. The Mycelium is an important ally in the climate change war, one that we cannot ignore. So, it is very important to protect our top soil and in turn protect this amazing organism.

to find out more about Andy Lopez and his opinions visit his website invisiblegardener.com where you can download his ebook or if you have any questions listen to his radio show or email him at andylopez@invisiblegardener.com

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Anthony Carroll MCIHort CMTGG, Consultant Horticulturist at Hortic Ant

I am delighted to introduce myself to you, I am Anthony Carroll and I am Head of Horticulture at Alisco Projects and a freelance consultant horticulturist at #HorticAnt.

From a young age, I was interested in gardening and wanted to pursue this as a career.  During the school holidays I would always carry out some activity in the garden, especially
in the mornings while listening to the birds sing.

Once I had left school, I was delighted to be accepted at Brackenhurst College in Nottinghamshire to study Horticulture.

After completing my studies in the year 2000 I started my career as an Assistant Gardener and soon progressed to become Head Gardener. However, my ambition was to own a
horticultural company, so I left my position as Head Gardener in 2005 and proceeded to run my own business.

In 2017 I was delighted to be asked to become a judge and assessor for The Royal Horticultural Society as part of their Green Plan It course.

I was delighted to be awarded full membership of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, The Professional Gardeners Guild and I am also a Consultant Member to The Gardeners Guild.

Horticultural science and therapeutic horticulture is a huge part of my life. I am passionate in promoting and improving the world of horticulture by influencing people of all ages and abilities, to celebrate this wonderful science.

I am now in my twentieth year within the industry and have been privileged to work in many different types of horticultural settings, such as ‘high end’ private gardens, Schools and HM Prison Service. I have also worked with people suffering from mental health issues. My aim is to promote horticulture so that everyone will be able to reap the benefits of this science.

With the wealth of experience I now have, I am inspiring children to be interested in horticulture. I believe this is an incredibly rewarding subject, as it encourages physical motivation, scientific and mathematical challenges and creativity, while being also
extremely beneficial for mental wellbeing.

During my years in horticulture, I have accumulated many ‘favourite’ herbaceous perennials, trees and shrubs. However to isolate one particular favourite of mine, I would have to choose Amelanchier lamarckii or June Berry Tree. It features snow white flowers and bronzed leaves, edible berries and a fantastic autumn leaf colour.

Nowadays we are encouraged to be aware of the state of the planet, so this year for birthday or anniversaries why not ask for a tree, especially an Amelanchier lamarckii, which is good for a medium size gardens. It can also grow in a container for a few years.  This would be a lovely gift for you but also for the climate as well. Remember, trees are the ‘lungs of the earth’.

Having experienced every season for many years in the garden, my favourite season is winter as you can see the true forms of the individual shrubs. A winter garden can be so magical on a lovely crisp frosty morning.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Kelly-Jane Leach

Why gardening?

When I was asked to write a blog for Gardening for Disabled Trust, I admit that so many ideas were going through my head. I could write about the current season, my favourite thing to grow or what I suffer with and my struggles with gardening. However, after talking to a few friends about where to start, I decided that it’s not really about what I grow, but why.

My abilities can vary from day to day. It’s a lottery. So why would I continue to carry on lifestyle and hobby that’s so physically exhausting? It’s a question that I am asked a lot and it’s pretty frustrating because it’s always said by non-gardeners in a derogatory manner.

There are other sides to gardening than plonking seeds in a pot and waiting for them to grow. You’d think that gardening would lead to a solitary lifestyle and some tree hugging here and there but it’s deeper than that. It becomes part of your values in life. You realise your plants are important because life is important. It gives you purpose, meaning and a sense of achievement.

I have an allotment in Hertfordshire and the best piece of advice I was ever given was to listen and respect those who had been there a long time. Yes, we all have our own way of doing things but there I was with a new born baby, one gardening fork and one spade which were both donated, and a huge pile of weeds which had been unattended for around three years. I needed help. It’s overwhelming at first but the first thing you learn about any kind of gardening is that patience is your friend. A skill that is easily transferred into your day to day life, and one that has helped me immensely.

My family, friends and plot neighbours helped me get set up and for that I am forever thankful as I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am today. I have no importance on this Earth whatsoever but I now provide for my family in a way I felt like I failed to by becoming unwell. It’s not always about constantly digging all the time. I’d never even used a power tool but there I was last week using my plot neighbour’s circular saw to cut timber.

I grow because I love to provide my friends and family something they couldn’t buy in the supermarket. Most of the people I know have never heard of a cucamelon or borage and when I can whack that in a G&T when they come to mine, they’re forever fascinated I grew it and I knew what to do with it and it always strikes conversation. I am completely self-taught at this point however my absolute love for it has made me want to pursue this further and see where it goes. I have no plans or specialties; I just know that when someone asks me how to grow something or asks for my advice, it fills my heart with more joy and love for this world than ever before as someone else wants to start putting seeds into the rapidly deteriorating earth that needs us more than ever before to restore it.

I have communicated and met with a large number of amateur and professional gardeners through socialising. Whether that be social media or through the allotment itself but gardening has no bias. It doesn’t judge you; it doesn’t expect anything from you. You do what you can within your own abilities. Disability or not – we all have our physical limits. Age, gender, sexuality, race, ability – whatever it is – there’s absolutely no bias.

Over just a few years, I am becoming greener, more environmentally aware, I’ve reduced my waste and make sure I avoid products that are non-recyclable, I’ve met friends who are all different and are the best and most welcoming people I know. I like to think that I now provide a little more for wildlife whether it’s planting edible flowers I know a myriad of insects and bees will enjoy but are also edible for me too if I decide. You get to watch beautiful wildlife and also battle with it. The birds eat my currants every year and somehow, they find a way.

It’s not just about growing food. It’s a social life or the sanity to you need. It’s fresh air, nature, unbiased friends and a community. You make gardening what you want it to be. If you want to grow show onions or giant pumpkins then do it! Do what you can within your own abilities which is very easy to say and hard to put into practice. It won’t come overnight but I can guarantee you that it will be with you forever and be life changing. From planting cress in an eggshell to planting your first tomatoes; they’re not too dissimilar. It’s not just about growing my own food anymore. It’s not really about providing. It’s about producing food I can’t buy, meeting other human beings without judgement, the community you create because of it, the wildlife and the robin that always visits you when you’re digging, the sense of purpose and self-achievement, and finally, you just being you. And that is the part that matters most.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Anthony Henn a Director at Garden on a Roll – Designer Garden Borders Delivered to your Door

ACCESSIBLE GARDENS FOR EVERYONE!

Our garden project for Jonathan Coggan Paralympian rugby player

One of the main challenges for a garden designer is that you must always consider the needs of the client first then create the best design possible around these requirements. I want my gardens to be a sanctuary for people and wildlife but of course be practical too.

When I was asked to help design and build a wheelchair accessible garden for Jonathan Coggan, I wanted it to look like a wonderful garden but also be totally wheelchair friendly, as I believe a garden should also work for friends and family who come to visit. This philosophy makes even more sense when selling the property as it should appeal to all potential buyers.

The Brief:

  • Easy maintenance
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Raised beds for Herbs and Veg
  • Colourful borders
  • Wildlife-friendly
  • Large patio areas for entertaining
  • Hot tub

The design:

I wanted to create a free-flowing design with lots of paths and access around the space. The positioning of the raised beds for veg and herbs was important as they needed to be sited in a sunny spot but look nice too.

The patio areas needed to be generous, ideally with some spots in the sun others in shade. The Hot Tub was a requirement so we found a location that felt right and was private, this was sunk into the new terrace for easy access.

The results:

The garden took approximately 6 weeks to complete including relaying the existing main lawn and creating the artificial grass lawn around the existing trees.