THE MODERN MINT BLOG
I get asked this a lot.
“Why do young people not garden? How come we cannot get younger people to come and inject new life into our garden club?”
I believe the answer is a simple one.
They don’t have the space. Houses are getting smaller, land per square metre is expensive and most new developments seem to put more and more living spaces into land that use to be used as a garden.
Learning to garden is about being practical. Try something, see what works, fail, try again the next season. If you don’t have the space, you will never get the chance to try. This for me is the biggest and simplest reason for young people not getting into gardening.
They have no gardens to practise on.
Why are the All Blacks such a good rugby side? Because their is a history of the game drenched into the Kiwi culture. Space is made for it (there is a lot of land to use after all!) and each generation passes on its passion for the game. This constant wave of rugby understanding (whether good or bad) gets the game into he conscious and subconscious minds of the young. They know rugby, whether they eventually like it or not.
Why do so many children play with iPhones or other mobiles? Because every single parent has one, and uses it throughout the day. It once again diffuses its culture into the minds of those who are learning and growing.
Growing up, we had what I would consider to be an average garden for most people. Space to kick a football around, climb the apple tree, play with the dog. Now a garden that size would be considered enormous, on newer estates.
I really found my gardening skills grew, as did my passion, when I became an apprentice gardener to a lad who gardened 30 acres of land and had to grow vegetables, fruits in the orchard, maintain herbaceous borders, mow lawns and generally make sure the estate was looking great.
The space was there, as was the sheer weight of different skills needed, that forced me to get better at gardening. I could afford to test things out (plants, techniques, timings of jobs) knowing I had the resources and help around me to make it better if it really didn’t work out. I learnt a lot, fast. I had the space to grow into the challenge.
My passion grew as my skills are forced to.
People can certainly love gardening, watching it on the TV or seeing inspiring programmes on Youtube…
(Just check out the Luis Barragan section from around 9 minutes or so in….)
But when those people only have a window box to garden in, how can they really gain the skills they need to transform the people around them? Or the next generation?
We are eroding our gardening culture because the space we have is not allowing people to learn what they need to learn, on the job, for better or worse.
Make our gardens a space we can garden in, with a variety of plants and elements, and you will see people garden and grow their passion.
Then you will see an influx in young people going to garden clubs, because they will be hungry to know more.
Guanock House needs a trainee topiary artist! Some of you may know it as the first home and garden of designer Arne Maynard, but is now owned and maintained by Michael Coleman and his wife Michelle. They offer meditation workshops and retreats there and it is as beautiful a house and garden as you could wish to visit. They called me in last Autumn to help shape up some of the topiary as it was all getting out of hand, but what it really needs is someone with a steady hand and lots of patience to take over the clipping …
Here are some photos of work I have been doing at the garden of Charlotte Molesworth in Kent. Snow and ice brings out the depth of the different planes and angles carved into the boxwood. A garden has to look beautiful in winter – and topiary (green architecture) helps do that! For more topiary pictures, click here.
How To Use Topiary In The Garden is my new talk, which I first gave last year via Zoom for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society. Returning to Zoom again, there are two dates available to see and hear the talk: March 16th – Book your ticket here April 6th – Book your ticket here The talk is great fun, perfect for keen gardeners or people who want to know how to improve their garden with hedges and architectural plants. How To Use Topiary In The Garden looks at how to move away from the idea topiary is twee or old-fashioned, …