Whenever we ask the question “Why do you garden” we are amazed and often moved by the responses we receive. Share your story and we'll send you a free pair of Genus socks. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. No more than fifty words, please! (And don't forget to tell us your sock size.)
"I garden because I enjoy it and live in hope of one day having the garden I dream about (not going to happen!) My idea of heaven is gardening on a warm sunny day listening to Test Match Special on the radio – bliss!" - Norma
"I’ve always gardened because I’ve had to, since I had a garden, just to keep it looking tidy and nice. And I like seeing the flowers growing. I’ve never grown vegetables, just a bit of lettuce."- Norah
"I love being outside in different seasons working with the soil and all the amazing variety of plants. Gardening is great therapy – stress reliever and good exercise. I love creating cottage style borders, mixing plants to blend colours and textures and scents. It’s very creative." - Liz
"I enjoy the challenge of growing plants especially ones that I will be able to eat. I like working outdoors and also enjoy the hard landscaping aspects of gardening." - Alan
"To keep my family in fresh fruit and veg for the year. I do have proper ‘wild flowers’, snowdrops, bluebells, cowslip, primrose, etc, for their sheer natural beauty." - Debs
"Love doing something out in the fresh air; doing something with your hands; explore the wonders of nature; doing something with my husband; I get carried away from negative thoughts; totally forgetting time or stress." - Conny
"Love flowers, get some exercise; want the surrounding of the house to look nice; enjoy buying plants; see what comes out of these little seedlings; like looking at beautifully laid out flowerbeds; trying to create a cottage garden or a herbaceous border." - Hans
"I love the escape and creating interesting visual and scented gardens for myself and others. My influence Ken Turner, who I knew in the sixties, he had an amazing eye. My father is a gardener and how he is retired we grow plants together – which is the only thing we have in common. I love planting on roofs and facades of building." - Lynda
"I garden because I believe it keeps me fit, my brain active and my spirit refreshed. I feel content when I garden, also I’m addicted to potting up plants for sale." - Davina
"As a Christian, I believe the old adage 'you are nearer to God in the garden than anywhere else on earth'. I am privileged to make my living as a gardener, which allows me to use my creative gifts." - Paul
"There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly cut grass, tomato vines and buddleia. The best moments are when a plant or tree suddenly flourishes after two to 3 years of constant attention. All of this gives me the greatest of pleasure." - Paul
"Gardening is time to spend outside, surrounded by beauty. I believe the green thumb runs in my family. My mother and grandmother were both crazy about gardening. I always had knowledge of plants growing up because I was surrounded by them. I believe it’s just in my genes to want to be in the garden!" - Phyllis
"I can’t stand seeing bare soil, always has been like that. Even when I was fresh out of college and had no soil in my third floor flat, the balcony was full of potted plants. For me, it’s therapy. It calms me and keeps my mind distracted from the stress of life." - David
"Gardening is a way to watch something grow from a seed that can feed your family; it always amazes me. I really love working in the garden every year." - Billy
"Besides being obsessed with gardening I am an artist and have this need to define space. Gardening allows me to create, using plants as a visual medium. Plants, with their leaf shapes, stems, and patterns add a compelling and pleasing graphic element to the environment. I also love growing my own food." - Emily
"When I owned my first little house and planted a pot of yellow marigolds I knew I was in it for life. I’m drawn to the garden as a place to be creative, enjoy the birds and get out of my own way for a while. And just breathe!" - Alison
"The “seeds” were planted when I watched my Grandma in her sun hat weeding her rock garden. I was about five years old. I can’ t ever remember not being involved with gardening. Best of all are the friends you make who share your passion."
"I just can’t seem to ‘not garden.’ Maybe it’s because I’m English. I can actually stare at my garden for ages and just appreciate what we can do to, even in small spaces. When we go out, I’m only interested in the gardens."
"You go as fast or as slow as you feel you want to go, and that deafening silence that only peace, perfect peace, can bring."
"If I can get one person to take a step in my shoes and try gardening and just see why I garden, I think they’d feel good about life." - Tony
"What more reason could you have for believing that all’s right with the world than when sitting in a peaceful garden, surrounded by living, growing plants, listening to birdsong and watching small fluffy clouds drifting across a blue sky? Aaahhhh." - Suzie
"Our garden has been the centre of family life, children playing, tea, BBQ & vino! We have a beautiful variegated acer that is a year round pleasure. It's special to enjoy a fragrant rose as it opens, also the wildlife. Next challenge - veg growing!" - Ann
"Ride on mowers, being outside on crisp winter days and warm, sunny, autumn ones, eating vegetables I have grown from seed, revelling in the exuberance of bulbs, the spicy scent of roses on a hot day, watching planting schemes come together, the look on a happy customer's face when it all goes right = the good things!" - Charlotte
"Gardening is a battle, each spring you go to war and by autumn you have won some and lost some. So exhilarating and every year a new challenge. I toil in the vineyard, battle in the veg patch and fiddle about in the flower beds. Beats going to the gym." - Jenni
Earlier this week, we visited the Fashion & Gardens exhibition at the Garden Museum in Lambeth, London. Curated by Nicola Shulman, a well-known author and journalist, who is also a Trustee of the Museum, the exhibition explores the influence of gardens and horticulture on fashion from the early 16th century until the modern day.
Gardens shape fashion trends
Embroidered gloves, a robe resembling a wrought iron gate, dresses decorated with all manner of flowers, a hat in the shape of an orchid, the garden shapes fashion trends.
The exhibition demonstrates how, in the seventeenth century, the British passion for gardens and outdoor pursuits propelled a shift from the French-influenced clothes made of silk to more practical clothes made from broadcloth – heavy-duty garments suitable for aristocratic landowners to ride and walk through their extensive parklands.
The clothes gardeners wear
The exhibition emphasizes the influence of gardens on fashion, but only gives a cursory nod to the clothes gardeners themselves wear. There is the predictable reference to the idiosyncratically-clad Vita Sackville-West and to the strawhatted Nancy Lancaster, memorably photographed by Valerie Finnis. The star exhibit, on show in April, will be Prince Charles’ old gardening coat. All of these examples serve to perpetuate the idea that gardening is the preserve of the landed gentry, the preferred pastime of the eccentric English.
Yet from Victorian times onwards, gardening has become more democratized, and especially after the First World War when so many estate gardeners perished, ordinary people have been creating and maintaining gardens, growing flowers and vegetables, and tending allotments. We would have liked to discover what clothes gardeners themselves are wearing. But maybe that should be the subject for another occasion.
Fashion & Gardens is a beautiful, elegant and thoughtful exhibition, well worth a visit.
Fashion & Gardens runs until 27 April at the Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB (gardenmuseum.org.uk)
Thanks to keen gardener Susan for sending in this photo of her old gardening trousers. She can now enjoy her free pair of socks.
To gardeners everywhere, please email your pics, address and shoe size to email@example.com to get a free pair of high performance socks. We love pictures of trousers, but what about your old shirts with holes, your ripped jackets, or misshapen jumpers?
Genus gardening clothes are so much more comfortable. They perform brilliantly in the garden. You will be amazed.
Radio 4 Extra is broadcasting a great programme on Gertrude Jekyll at 9am today, 1st February.
Gertrude Jekyll (29 November 1843—8 December 1932) was an influential British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer. She created over 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States, and wrote over 1,000 articles for magazines such as Country Life and The Garden. Jekyll has been described as "a premier influence in garden design" by English and American gardening enthusiasts.
Gertrude Jekyll once said: "A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust." Through her fascination with colour, cottage gardens and experimentation, it has been said she "changed the face of England more than any save the Creator and perhaps Capability Brown".
In the BBC programme, Penelope Keith explores Miss Jekyll's own 10-acre garden, the enchanting Munstead Wood in Surrey, presents interesting snippets from the BBC sound archive, and discusses Gertrude's influence with authors James Wong and Catherine Horwood and with Munstead Wood's head gardener, Annabel Watts.
Really worth a listen.
("Painting of an old woman with glasses and grey hair in a chair, by lamplight". Portrait of Gertrude Jekyll by William Nicholson, painted October 1920)
ISPO Munich 2014
We’ve just come back from a couple of days at the Sports and Outdoor Trade Fair. This is held twice a year, in summer and winter, and is the premier exhibition for manufacturers of gear for the sports world and for a wide range of outdoor activities.
We were looking for ideas for the next collection of Genus garden clothing.
In the winter, the outdoor section shows clothes for skiing, trekking, hill walking, mountain climbing, hunting, and in the summer this is extended to water sports of all kinds.
Well-known outdoor clothing brands such as Jack Wolfskin, Rab, Sprayway, Craghoppers Berghaus and Regatta are regular exhibitors.
It’s a very exciting, very busy and very large event. The Genus team came away exhausted, but with lots of ideas and inspiration for new fabrics, new technologies and new aspects of functionality that we can use to create amazing new gardening clothes.
Watch this space.