Extra-ordinary situations can sometimes spark extra-ordinary ideas and the current lockdown is no exception. With plans to launch a marketing business suddenly curtailed, Lucy Garrad-Abrahams was at a loose end when a chance comment from her organic gardener father sparked an idea. “Why,” he said on hearing the summer’s major horticultural shows had been cancelled, “can’t garden shows be put online?”
And so, within weeks, the Great British Garden Show was born. A virtual show designed to let real gardeners showcase their real gardens, sharing their passions and their knowledge and discovering a support system and community along the way.
The website was launched in mid March this year and quickly started attracting like-minded gardeners, from beginners to the experienced, keen to show their green fingered triumphs. The gardens featured range from neat backyards to rolling countryside plots and social media has proved a popular platform for sharing images from mood-lifting individual blooms to work-in-progress vegetable patches. For those looking for expert advice, the website also offers in-depth features on everything from growing flowers from seeds to planting a potato patch. And in time, a virtual event is planned, along with even more educational features.
“Garden shows are great for inspiration but they are for serious gardeners and garden designers,” explains founder Lucy. “The Great British Garden Show is for everyday folk. It gives people the opportunity to show what they might not have been able to before.”
One such gardener is Lorrie from Bridport who shares her Dorset garden and courtyard on the site. A lush jungle of plant species and shapes with a beehive and arbour to add points of interest, the garden is an inspiring example of what can be achieved in a small space. Meanwhile, Anya’s garden in Buckinghamshire with its riot of hazy lavender borders and fuchsia pink rambling roses was the positive result of a personal family crisis.
Size and budgets are clearly no barrier, one of the latest features on the website is all about container gardens and Lucy herself, currently isolating in an apartment, is focused on developing her indoor plant collection. What does connect the community is a simple love of growing things. And the appreciation of the health benefits of connecting with nature.
“Gardening is fantastic therapy,” explains Lucy, who herself has sought solace in greenery when facing bouts of anxiety. “It reduces stress and improves mood - gardening is such a grounding experience. It’s just you and nature, creating something beautiful.”
It might explain why, along with baking, gardening has become so popular during this period of isolation. With time to slow down and appreciate the simple joys of nature, people’s gardens have become more than just projects to tick off, but an opportunity to connect with the space and find some much needed sanctuary. And now those gardens and their curators can share their passions on the Great British Garden Show.