Gardening is typically considered an activity that you come to later in life when you have the time, money and space to dedicate to carefully curated flowerbeds and expensive decking. But these days you don’t have to own a garden to appreciate the beauty – and therapeutic value – of the natural world.
Log on to Instagram and everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Taylor Swift is posting pictures of powdery peonies and blossoming cherry trees. The message is clear: it’s fashionable to care about flowers.
“Social media plays a big part in joining people up and letting them share ideas,” says Sophie Raworth who, with Joe Swift, co-hosts coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
“I tweeted a couple of photos yesterday when I was at the site filming the designers build their gardens and they were retweeted loads by people who are clearly really passionate about gardening.”
She isn’t keen on sharing photos of her own garden – unless it’s to ask Joe for advice. “I told him I had this bit of lawn that I wanted to make more interesting and he sent me drawings. Then we had a two-week period where I was texting him picture updates and he was saying, ‘No, you need to move those box balls plants…’
“I do take photos of my garden but generally keep them to myself. I was out at 7.30 this morning photographing a rose suddenly in bloom. I bought it at Chelsea last year and this is the first time I’ve seen it in bloom. That’s the wonderful thing about gardening – it slows you down.”
It’s this longing for a calmer pace of life that Raworth believes is behind the current, cross-generational interest in the great outdoors.
“In this day and age we all live such hectic lives but you have to be patient with gardening and that’s what’s so wonderful about it. I’m in a busy 24-hour news room most of the time or with the kids or running marathons. Being in the garden is my time to just sit and watch.”
TV coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show begins on BBC1 today (Sunday 22nd May) at 5.30pm, and then continues on BBC1 and BBC2 throughout the week