The Garden in lockdown.

It’s coming up to the fifth week of lockdown and this unusual reality that we’re all living through has become an almost dreamlike normality; the other-world-like quality is enhanced by the perpetual groundhog sunshine that has been virtually ever present for the entire time. Talking of virtually, we all now know what zoom is; all our team meetings and those with other University departments are now taking place on a screen. In the Garden we have just two gardeners at a time and the rest of the week staff work from home, updating plant databases, working on planting plans, researching displays, writing blogs…

So I look forward to going in to work for my two days a week, I tend to walk in early in the morning when there’s no-one about; there are people on the route but crossing the road to avoid each other is a new sign of affection rather than disgust, there is no rush hour, no rushing by anyone, lives have hit pause while hospitals and care homes face the horrors of the situation. It sometimes feels helpless being so inactive, but inaction is the most important thing we can do at the moment. Of course, nature at this time of year is at its most active, the pick me ups that come from waving goodbye to another winter and the warmth and light of many months ahead seem enhanced. Wildlife has grown in confidence without cars and people hastily moving to the next important engagement; the lack of a traffic hum and vapour trails leave the stage free for singing birds and pollinators. In the Garden the dry weather has held back the weeds for now; we’re watering a lot and observing the world turn green before our eyes. There is flower aplenty but no one to view it, the Garden was built for people to walk around, arms behind back and looking at the exhibits doing their thing, learning about the wondrous practical beauty that the plant world produces.

While some events have fallen by the wayside, and visitors aren’t visiting, coffee and cake not being served, courses aren’t running at the moment and volunteers aren’t here; the Garden is still performing magnificently to an empty auditorium. So keep your eyes on our Instagram, and Facebook for the Garden’s springtime show; during these groundhog days it’s good to see seasonal change happening before our eyes.

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