Next week is Britain’s first National Gardening Week, set up by the Royal Horticultural Society to get the nation growing and to celebrate the joys of gardening.
© Gap Photos/Howard Rice
All four RHS gardens will have special events daily — see below for diary dates on our two local gardens, Wisley and Hyde Hall — while communities and organisations throughout the land are planning garden parties, tree planting, advisory services, plant swaps, workshops and open days.
To kick off the week, around 1,200 schools and community groups will be creating wildflower meadows on wasteland and public places.
London alone has 40 participants, from Stockwell Primary to the London Lighthouse, who will be sowing a total of over 400 square metres in pockets of spare ground through the city.
This is also part of RHS Britain in Bloom’s Wild about Wildflowers launch, and is a gesture to help replenish some of the 97 per cent of wildflower meadows lost since 1930.
You can join in by entering your postcode into an online map at www.rhs.org.uk/getinvolved or, on your own patch, sow a packet of wildflower seeds this weekend and thus help increase our declining insect populations that depend on flowers for survival. You could also try converting your lawn to more drought-resistant meadow status by letting it grow, first planting wildflower plugs such as ox-eye daisy, cowslip and ragged robin.
Gardening with a hosepipe ban is a huge concern, which is why the RHS invites all gardeners — not just RHS members — to call with drought queries as well as thorny gardening problems on Monday, dubbed SOS Day.
Call 01483 226540 between 10am and 4pm, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for waterwise tips and the best drought plants. Those that get the RHS seal of approval include pinks, Stachys lantana, Sweet William, ornamental grasses, rock rose and Mexican orange blossom, Choisya ternata.
The plants that thrive on little water, says Guy Barter, head of the advisory service, are those with fleshy, succulent leaves, grey leaves, hairy foliage, or those that have spikes.
© Gap Photos/Juliette Wade
If you’re growing veg this season, the encouraging words are that fruit and veg usually crop adequately without watering. The quality and quantity, however, are improved by watering close to harvest.
On Tuesday, the RHS is asking garden owners to take photos of their own plots, to help build a picture of the country’s domestic gardens and become part of gardening history. To submit your photo, email it to email@example.com
On Wednesday, the RHS celebrates careers in horticulture, from floristry and gardening to landscaping and media, and has lined up the glitterati of the gardening world, headed by Alan Titchmarsh, for a day’s talks at the RHS Horticultural Halls in Westminster. The RHS has 20 free tickets for the event, which is titled “A Career to be Proud of”. To apply, send an email with your phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on April 13.
Next Thursday is dedicated to getting greener in the garden, with the focus on making your own compost. Even if your garden is handkerchief-sized, you should still find room for a bin so that you can turn garden prunings and kitchen waste into valuable water-holding organic humus to slather on soil.
Friday is Get Kids Growing Day — possibly the most important initiative of all. Over 15,000 schools are involved in sowing and planting, and the RHS is holding a Young School Gardener of the Year contest. For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening.
Despite the drought, our gardening future looks rosy.
See it: National Gardening Week
Learn from the experts at the inspirational RHS gardens Wisley in Surrey, and Hyde Hall in Essex, during National Gardening Week, April 16-22.
Events at Wisley include a weed identity display and advisory service, touring the gardens with the curator, learning about home composting, a workshop on weaving willow sculptures and planting fruit and veg in containers.
At Hyde Hall you can visit the photo archives to see the gardens’ transformation, learn about gardening as a profession, discover how to get your kids growing plants, and give your containers the expert touch.
For timings and more information, see www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk .