Well, what a year. You all still there at the back?
Like most people, my life has completely transformed over the past 14 months. When the pandemic struck last March, virtually all my work disappeared overnight: no teaching, no talks, no tours or travel. Instead my focus turned fully local – helping neighbours and my community make the most of their gardens (for those lucky enough to have one).
To begin with, a lot of this involved good old-fashioned grunt work: pruning, weeding and deadheading. I pride myself on judicial dead-heading to keep flowering plants going for longer – a talent that came in handy under lockdown, as people turned outdoors for a dash of escapism.
For all the restrictions going on, it felt good to recognise the value of our local environment and connect with others over life’s simple pleasures. Last year, I got into the habit of putting a basket filled with bunches of flowers that changed daily at the bottom of my drive, along with pots of seedlings. Neighbours and walkers loved it: I even had people coming and asking especially for a seasonal bouquet, and raised hundreds of pounds for the local Stroud Foodbank in return.
Like so many others, I found gardening to be a solace amid all the bad news, too. It has a way of stilling the mind and bringing you into the present with simple, tangible tasks that were worlds apart from the chaos of Covid. It helped that I discovered the podcast Fortunately with Jane Garvey and Fi Glover, which had me weeping tears of laughter, sadness and joy as I pottered around – the ultimate gardening companion.
I found my business developing in new areas too, including:
Garden design advice
The problem with giving your garden a spruce-up is that it can be hard to see the wood from the trees (literally!) That’s where I can swoop in, with a rational look at your space, time and budget to form a master plan of what to tackle first. This means what could be an overwhelming project is broken down into bite-sized pieces.
This area of my work has proven really popular over the past year. It’s a smaller investment than a full design process and works wonders to help people reconnect and make the most of their gardens. Drop me an email on Marion Mako firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about this service.
Gardening gift vouchers
I now sell garden consultations by the hour, available as gift vouchers for loved ones who love gardening. Based in your garden, I listen to what you would like to create and achieve then follow up with a résumé to inspire, delight and give you the confidence to grow, grow, grow. Great for any newbie gardeners, or people whose gardens have become neglected and in need a revamp. Email email@example.com to book.
Lockdown learning and TV
I was back to teaching in March this year, with a lecture on Historic Planting Styles for the London College of Garden Design. I’ve also participated in several Zoom discussions organised by the Gardens Trust and the Garden Museum, opening the door to a wealth of knowledge on everything from medieval gardening tools to post-war landscapes and my new floral heroine, Constance Spry (more on her another time I hope).
Oh, and I had my five minutes of fame with an appearance on PBS America show A Short History of the English Garden. An exhilarating, if freezing, experience!