November has already been a busy time for birthdays and remembrance.
BBC Essex celebrates
BBC Essex celebrated 25 years of radio broadcasting with a special gardening programme from RHS Garden Hyde Hall. I was part of Ken Crowther’s team, broadcasting for two hours from a damp and windy hilltop together with gardening expert Tom Cole from Writtle Horticultural College, near Chelmsford.
The RHS offered free entry to all BBC Essex listeners and we were swamped with more than a thousand people, many of whom arrived with queries and bags of plant samples. Plant diseases have been a big problem this year with rose powdery mildew, tomato blight and downy mildew on busy Lizzies the biggest culprits. After we had finished broadcasting, we celebrated with a well-deserved cup of tea and a slice of special birthday cake prepared by the kitchens at Hyde Hall.
Gardening Leave celebrates
Later that week, Paula Parker (Head of Marketing) and I were invited to the first birthday celebrations of the opening of the Gardening Leave therapeutic garden in the heart of London. This charity encourages troubled ex-servicemen to attend regularly so they can benefit from mutual support of colleagues and horticultural therapy.
Some further great news is that the site of the Gardening Leave garden has been moved from a shaded area under trees to a new site within the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is south facing, gets plenty of sunshine and will provide better growing conditions.
We learned from Horticultural Therapist Tara Jeewoonarian that getting our hands dirty and caring for plants on a regular basis has been proved to benefit self-esteem, reduce social isolation and improve concentration, especially for those suffering from anxiety, insomnia and depression caused by the traumas of battle.
For our part, Miracle-Gro has been happy to supply various types of Levington composts and Miracle-Gro soil improvers to the five walled gardens created by Gardening Leave to ensure some great growing conditions for the plants they are nurturing.
To find out more about Gardening Leave and how you can help, visit the Gardening Leave website for further information.