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Agnes Stevenson: 2020 was the year of the gardening beginner. 2021 will be the year of the grafter

© Shutterstock / Dudarev MikhailFocusing on plants has provided much-needed distraction from the challenges 
of lockdown for experienced gardeners
Focusing on plants has provided much-needed distraction from the challenges of lockdown for experienced gardeners

Agnes Stevenson looks back on a year when gardening helped millions escape the stresses of lockdown, and ahead to another season of soil and toil

In early January the days are still short and the weather can be unkind, but before we know it the gardening year will be under way.

And this year the ranks of us who have long loved to dig and sow will be joined by those who took up gardening during lockdown, when they found themselves unexpectedly stuck at home.

Estimates of how many people turned to gardening for the first time during the pandemic run into millions and for many it has been a way to escape the stresses of living under restrictions and turn their own patch of soil into a personal haven.

From mental health to physical fitness, the benefits of gardening are extensive and top of my list of New Year’s resolutions is a determination to spend more time outdoors tackling these areas of the garden that need close attention.

© Andrew Cawley
Agnes Stevenson

I suspect there are many people who share my resolution and one charity wants to hear from them if they do.

The Incorporation of Gardeners of Glasgow has been in existence for almost 400 years and today it continues its work of supporting horticulture at all levels. Now it wants to reward those who have made a difference to their own lives and those of their neighbours during the pandemic by launching new awards open to anyone living in Glasgow and the surrounding areas.

It is looking for the best garden, best community garden and best young gardener under the age of 16. And it is offering prizes of £250 in each category.

Sandy Martin, himself a professional horticulturist, is a member of the Incorporation. He says: “We are looking for garden makeovers, brilliant window boxes, waste land transformed into wildflower meadows and front gardens filled with flowers. No plot is too small to be considered, so send us pictures.”

© Val Thoermer/imageBROKER/Shutterstock
Lockdown was also a time for gardening newcomers

And it is not just Glasgow that has flourished. I’ve seen signs of increased gardening activity in my local area and I’m sure the picture is the same across the whole country.

Gardening forces you to plan ahead. It makes you focus on something other than yourself and it rewards you with beautiful flowers and good things to eat, so I would be surprised if other organisations don’t start offering rewards to those who have dug in during these difficult times. If you live around Glasgow you can enter the existing competition by sending photographs and a short description of the work undertaken to entry@lgfgardeningcompetition.com by Friday, April 16.

If you live elsewhere then why not take some photographs anyway so you can look back at what you, a friend or neighbour has achieved while you continue to make plans for a brilliant gardening year ahead.