Gardening with the RHS is the UK’s number one gardening podcast and in this week’s ‘Gardening with a Conscience’ episode, listeners will have the opportunity to hear from our very own Founder & Chair of Trustees, Dr Olivia Chapple, alongside Mothin Ali, founder of the Dig It Out campaign which aims to tackle racism in the horticultural world.
To listen to the episode, please click here or go to your podcast platform of choice
Each week the podcast talks to RHS experts, garden designers, scientists, growers and many others to simply encourage Britain to get growing.
The podcast is designed to help everyone get the very best out of their gardens, offering seasonal advice, inspiration and practical solutions to all your gardening problems. Topics covered include growing your own vegetables, garden design and gardening with children, whilst there are also masterclasses in subjects such as growing cottage garden plants and eco-friendly gardening.
This week’s episode is therefore rather unique, as it combines many of these vast and varied topics into one episode with a crucial message; that gardening is a force for good. It covers everything, from how gardening helps people to improve their wellbeing, to how it’s helping to tackle prejudices, to how it’s supporting ecosystems in our green spaces.
Hosted by RHS Schools and Groups Programme Manager, Alana Cama, the episode opens with Olivia sharing more about Horatio’s Garden, which Alana describes as ‘the definition of a garden with a good conscience’ and an ‘invaluable escape’ for people affected by spinal injury.
Featuring insights from both Olivia and the garden’s designer, Cleve West, the two tell the serendipitous story of how the first Horatio’s Garden came to be at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury District Hospital. Together, they share how they created a subtly accessible garden, which has become the vibrant legacy of Olivia’s eldest son, Horatio Chapple.
Whilst Cleve provides detail about the plants thoughtfully chosen to encourage wildlife and create a colourful, natural haven for people to enjoy, Olivia talks more about how the extraordinary oasis has transformed people’s lives. Throughout the past nine years, patients have shared that the garden has helped them to sleep better, feel happier, think more clearly and ultimately regain a sense of control; whether this be through making their own cup of tea and enjoying it outside, or through growing their own fruit and vegetables.
As Olivia says, Horatio’s Garden allows people to feel the power of the elements, something that offers those spending many months in hospital an immense, often emotional, release. Cleve echoes this, admitting that until he saw people in Horatio’s Garden, even he had underestimated just how amazing nature is and the vital part it plays in people’s lives.
This is a sentiment Mothin Ali, another of the podcast’s guests, shares. As a gardener, he established the website and YouTube channel My Family Garden in order to highlight how growing is at the heart of a host of communities, many of which are underrepresented in horticulture. His channel is all about drawing attention to plants and vegetables of diverse cultural significance, with his contribution helping to make horticulture more representative and inclusive.
It was this that led to him suffering racist abuse from trolls online.
In response, Mothin established the Dig It Out campaign, which focusses on the practical steps everyone can take to tackle racism in the world of gardening and beyond.
The campaign is three-fold and involves: advocating for people who are facing discrimination and/or racist abuse; raising awareness of the issue, making sure those in authority know there is structural and institutional racism to be tackled; and pushing people from BAME backgrounds forward.
Alongside Mothin’s timely and crucial campaign, there are also others promoted in the podcast that are currently being run by the RHS in communities across the UK, all of which are about creating accessible, fun and welcoming ways for people to grow together.
With over 100,000 monthly downloads, we are enormously grateful to have been invited to feature on the Gardening with the RHS podcast and feel privileged to have been part of an episode bearing so many important, apposite and empowering messages.