We’ve made a virtual venture across the pond this month, which was all thanks to Head Gardener of Horatio’s Garden Midlands, Imogen Jackson, giving an online talk to a gardening group based in the USA.
It was a particularly exciting event for all of us, but particularly for Imogen, who has penned the short piece about her experience below to mark the occasion.
On Monday 8th February, I gave my first gardening talk for over a year, my first gardening talk via Zoom and my first gardening talk outside of the UK.
I was contacted in October 2020 by keen gardener and environmentalist, Elizabeth Shawaker, who spotted my posts on LinkedIn and then checked out the Horatio’s Garden website. She said that the photos of the charity’s gardens made her feel “happy with a cheerful anticipation for a healthy springtime” and hoped that my Zoom tour of Horatio’s Garden Midlands would bring “sunshine to our cloudy Toledo skyline.”
In November, I had a long phone conversation in which we discussed all things gardening and conservation related. It was then that Elizabeth shared, “Talking with you about your gardens has been the most uplifting hour! It is interesting to learn that Great Britain has many of the same conservation concerns as we do here in Ohio. Your insights reintegrating indigenous plants and their pollinators, reclaiming natural areas, protecting native insects, birds and wildlife, whilst also developing clean water initiatives are universal as well as regional specific. Learning about your continent’s conservation initiatives will truly benefit our area.”
With the help of Midlands Garden Administrator, Gemma Christie, the other Head Gardeners and the team at Head Office, I put together a talk that shared many incredible photographs of each Horatio’s Garden, along with information about the wildlife and wildflowers in all the gardens.
I shared information too about the charity’s environmental policy and practices, which are all aimed at encouraging wildlife as well as protecting the natural environment through minimal watering, careful plant selection, minimising plastic use, using of peat free compost and organic growing practices, with a special focus on there being no pesticide spraying as instead we encourage biodiversity to control ‘pests’, such as aphids.
The group at the talk were especially interested to hear that in the UK we do not have municipal trucks drenching private gardens with pesticides as a matter of course. They were also really moved to hear the difference our gardens make to patients, visitors, and staff, along with being interested to know how active patients are in the upkeep of the gardens. In particular, they asked about whether we use the flowers grown in the garden in flower arranging horticultural therapy sessions, to which I happily gave the reply “we do!”
After the webinar, I received a lovely message from Elizabeth which said:
“You gave a spectacular talk and tour. You are so knowledgeable and we each learned many new things that we can apply here in our own gardens. Your delightful discussion brought our group together from all parts of the US, many ‘Zooming’ in from Florida. Today was our biggest turnout in over a year, with 27 ladies attending. Learning about Horatio’s Garden and all the amazing aspects of its healing powers brightened up our day.”
The group’s kind words would have been more than enough, but they also contacted Head Office following the discussion to make a generous donation to help support Horatio’s Garden and our continued work.
It was a privilege to be able to share the charity with such a passionate group and I very much hope we continue to learn from each other for many years to come.