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Keeping up with the Chrysanthemums

Posted on 10 February 2016

I love lists. Whether it’s a shopping list, a work ‘to-do’ list or even a list about writing a list you just can’t beat that feeling of satisfied organisation.

But even an avid list writer like me was a bit surprised by theme of last night’s scribbles - my ‘spring garden’ to-do list. How the wind had changed!

Pots and plans

I moved house 18 months ago. Moving house is never a fun experience. Humping furniture around, being covered in newspaper ink from wrapping up breakables - one of which will inevitably crack – and most importantly, having to decide which cupboard the teabags and tins of beans will live in the kitchen… stress central!

But when I moved it wasn’t just the fear of breaking my favourite mug that got me in a tizz – it was the size of the garden. As I looked at my neighbours well-kept lawns and plants I definitely felt the pressure to keep up with the chrysanthemums!

Fortunately my mum is a fantastic gardener and once she helped me get to grips with my pots, flowers and planters I soon became obsessed with my garden. As did my husband - you could have knocked me down with a monkey-tail tree when he bought a compost bin last summer.

Don’t get me wrong, watering plants at 10pm at night isn’t fun and games, especially when you epically fail and squish a slug under your bare-foot when you neglect to wear shoes. But seeing my garden grow is an addiction. It's a project that I’m responsible for and I’m not ashamed to say, gives me a fantastic buzz.

More than just a pretty space

Providing access to quality green space is a cause that Groundwork has championed for over 30 years with all our green hearts.

I know I’m fortunate to have regular access to green space and place I can call my very own. To some, my pots and plants might not seem like much - I’ve never pretended that they are contenders for the Chelsea Flower Show! – but they make me happy and I know I’m not the only one whose geraniums make them grin and busy lilies make them blossom.

But not everyone is so fortunate.

The facts speak for themselves. A recent study showed that that 20 million people in the UK are missing out on the benefits of green space despite 91% of people believe that open spaces improve quality of life.  

That’s 20 million people who don’t have regular access to a garden, or a park or an outdoor space that they can call upon or pay a visit to or simply look at.

We know the difference that having access to quality green space makes to people lives and communities.

Take Irene, who lives in an inner-city flat in Hackney and craved outdoor space for herself and her community. She worked with Groundwork and her fellow neighbours create a community garden, complete with 40 bespoke vegetable plots, tool-sheds and a community notice area that has allowed neighbours to become friends and has created a community hub that has changed places and lives. 

Beth and her family love the freedom of Nertherton Park, where the kids can ‘forget about their computer games and jump in puddles’ and meet friends, enjoying the freedom that green spaces provide for the whole family. 

So let’s make a pledge

The above are two real life examples of why people everywhere and of every age need places and times to treasure – whether it’s a bench for reflection, a place to grow veg’ or somewhere to kick a football.

Love of green space and the outdoors is contagious, so let’s make a  pact to not only cherish our own ‘treasured spaces’ but work together to create even more so everyone has a space in their community that they can treasure.

Let’s get mud under our fingernails, grow veggies, make daisy chains, swing on swings, meet new mates, jump in puddles, run like the wind or simply kick back in our gardens and breathe in the fresh air with a cuppa tea.

Let’s celebrate the end of winter with a spring in our step and create a Great Green Britain!

To find out more about how Groundwork is striving to improve access to green space please click here. 

Irene's story: 

Beth's story: 

Post by Stacey Aplin, PR and Communications Officer

Groundwork UK