Bloomin' Gardeners Goes International!

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The Bloomin’ Gardeners is a group of ‘older’ gardeners originally based at the Age UK Islington Drovers Centre (now closed), who usually garden two large community areas in Caledonian Park, near the Clock Tower. The Covid-19 lockdown has interrupted these activities but the group has managed to get their regular gardening fix through staying in touch via Whatsapp. As I am lucky enough to have a greenhouse in my garden in Holloway I was able to grow lots of plants through the spring, both for my own use and to distribute to other gardeners and groups around the borough. We set up our own Click and Collect scheme: the gardeners sent me a plant request via Whatsapp or an SMS message and I fulfilled it by leaving named bags of plants in my front garden for collection – all Covid secure. We have been exchanging daily updates and photos of our plants and produce as it has developed.

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We have Diane’s sweet peas, Betty’s too, along with tomatoes and a wonderful salad harvested from Andrea’s allotment.

One of our group, Fabrizio, had been keeping in touch with friends in Umbria in Italy and sent them some of our pics. They promptly responded with videos and photos of their veg gardens and what they were picking each day. Our days are now regularly punctuated by yet another Ping! as a new Whatsapp message arrives with harvest reports and recipes from all over. Check out the baked Zucchini! And we are learning some Italian also: Pomodori – tomatoes; Zucchine – courgettes; Melanzane – aubergines.

Yet another of our group, Andrea has friends in Fife, Scotland, with a large walled garden and they joined in too. It is a great way to feel connected and to swap gardening triumphs and trials. The pests in Umbria are much like those in Islington, although Fife has its own issues – sea eagles taking away the young geese! Makes our pigeons seem very ordinary!

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