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.
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022