This change has been a long time coming, and it all began with a conversation with the editor of a well know gardening magazine who told me the brief from above was that the magazine in question had to be about plants, propagation and gardens and couldn't focus on people, making it extremely difficult, however keen he personally was, to work on anything about people or communities in gardens. Needless to say I was somewhat surprised but it set me about asking some questions, and this website is the beginning to the final answer.
My main question to myself was why do I garden, and although I love the beauty of plants and the joy of seeing things bloom in my garden, the reality really is that for me my garden, along with all the gardens I create, either with communities or in my design work, are for people and made with their input. They are spaces I want people to love, to cherish and to adore, but they are also spaces that are made for people. In a private garden my first question is always about family use, football and washing lines and in a community it is always what does the community need from this space other than a garden? They are gardens made to support and enrich lives and that people want to bring other people to and make them a part of. They are workable, can take some abuse and most importantly are loved. And in that I think my job, wherever I am and whoever i am working with, is all about supporting people's confidence in a garden, whether that's a first time gardener needing help with design, a group coming along to learn through a workshop, or someone coming through a mental health crisis who has been sent to garden for therapy. With community comes confidence and seeing someone bloom in a garden is the most powerful thing and one that I am lucky enough to see on a daily basis.
Within communities gardens support people. From people struggling with mental health, homelessness, confidence issues and more, to children learning to joys of being outside, to people working through the final days of life, a garden is a place to just be. To potter. To wonder in the immense power that nature has to lift our spirits and mend our souls. A place where people can be at peace with themselves and with each other.
But there are other gardening communities. There is the becoming ever more powerful online community of gardeners, garden blogger and vloggers, rocking our worlds with some incredible content. From Facebook to Twitter and Instagram the online world is filled with hashtags that send you to folks all across the world gardening in many different ways but all enthusiastic and driven to share their stories. There are societies and clubs, some large and some tiny, but all doing amazing work to bring people and plants together and often doing important work that often goes unseen. The list is endless, but part of the joy of this will be being able to amplify those stories, tell people's tales and celebrate the amazing work going on across the gardening world, focusing as much on the people as the plants!
So how will this work? Well there are effectively three blogs here. My usual ramblings will be at The Community Garden, but there is also The Community Gardener blog, where I will tell stories of amazing communities, wherever and whatever they might look like, revelling in the joy of seeing people outside, to in, loving whatever it is they are doing and sharing that with others. If you'd like me to tell your tale then just get in touch and please do not be shy!! Also there others will have to possibility of telling their stories in their own words, so if you'd like to do that, get in touch too!!
And finally there is the Practical Community Garden where I'll be sharing tips and practical information to support gardeners everywhere. We'll talk about the weather, gardening for wildlife, pests and diseases amongst other things, and also suggest great books, magazines, radio and TV shows alongside a myriad of other things that will support your garden.
Finally be patient!! In typical Sara style, I am just doing this myself! No one has put a huge sum of money behind it, or is sponsoring me in any way, and as you'll all know I am fairly busy, with all the things I do every day, which you can see if you pop onto the Working with Sara page!! But I am excited to really have a space to look at community and gardens in and I really hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.........