At the same time, those of us who have the privilege of being able to enjoy private garden space, and – more latterly – access to public parks, there is also a much greater awareness that a very significant number of people do not have any access to private or public gardens because the design and structure of their home or accommodation doesn’t include any personal space. And, in some cases, entire accommodation blocks have no balconies or terraces, no shared open space, and no proper access to local parks or the wider landscape with its network of local footpaths.
Sadly, as is often the case with the combination of very busy lives and high population densities, it is only in times of crisis such as this that we are reminded of what mistakes architects and planners have made in the past, and we identify what we all need to do differently and better in the future to improve the quality of the green spaces around us for the wider well-being of all. We are also reminded of how crucial it is to give everyone an opportunity to maintain a real connection with the natural world, and by doing so it will help to ensure we are also taking good care of our health and well-being. Access to nature and a chance to enjoy the process of growing plants and food can provide a vital calming element to our lives, as well as a sense of relief and achievement during these difficult times when our normal reference points and the usual reassuring sense of rhythm has been disrupted.
Being outside and being given an opportunity to interact with the environment and the plants and other organisms within it can be highly beneficial, but being outside also provides the opportunity of simply observing the natural environment in a more passive way – perhaps watching clouds pass by, or looking and listening to birds, trying to identify and observe the many different species can often help encourage children and young people or adults to develop much more interest in what is going on around them. Just by having more time to watch trees burst into leaf or to see the gradual process of spring shrubs come into flower, can help individuals to become more aware and take an interest in the flora and fauna which form such a crucial part of our local ecology and the gardens and parks which we are so passionate about.
For those of you who have been unable to venture outdoors during lockdown, it has still been possible to enjoy the natural world from indoors, and thanks to some creative internet and television programmes such as the Chelsea Week reviews, we can still visit gardens, albeit ‘virtually’. With regards to our own HGT events’ programme, we have inevitably been obliged to cancel many visits, but currently we are still hoping to run some Autumn visits, and have been working on a rolling three-month period to arrange refunds for all cancelled events.
I hope we will be allowed to meet up at an HGT event before too long, for as enjoyable as it is to interact with plants, there is nothing quite like talking to a fellow enthusiast about our mutual interest in our wonderful gardens and parks that form such a crucial part of the Hampshire landscape.
Thank you for your continued support, it is very much appreciated – hope to see you at an HGT event soon.
With best wishes