Voicing the Garden

At the Garden, we tend to always focus on the prime importance of our collection – the plants – but we celebrated some significant birthdays last year including 30 years of the Friends, and 60 years of our ‘staying in touch’ organisation for former members of staff, CUBGA.

This got us to thinking about the people behind the plants - those who have helped create the collections, gardens and landscapes and also our visitors, whose support and expectations have influenced its past and continue to shape its future. When one of our long- serving members of the horticultural staff brought in a 1953 cine film of fun and frolics at the Garden at the annual Round the Garden Race, that redoubled our determination to capture these stories, share them and get a conversation going.

As part of the project, this film has now been digitised and overlaid with the recollections of Peter Thoday, who trained here at the Garden before embarking on a prestigious career in horticulture that has seen him lecture, advise the Eden Project and present television series for the BBC. You can watch the film below - enjoy!

We have developed Voicing the Garden to bring together both sides of the garden fence and we are delighted the HLF are supporting us in our plans to encourage people to find out more about the Garden with a £9,800 grant for Voicing the Garden. But we won't be able to deliver the project without volunteers!

Volunteers will play a crucial role in uncovering, researching, recording, transcribing and publishing the stories, and signed up volunteers will all receive specialist training. If you would like to help and perhaps acquire some new skills and friends along the way, please get in touch to come along to the project presentation morning in the Garden’s Classroom at 11am on Friday 22 February.

Another big date for the diary is our Festival of Plants on Saturday 18 May when we will be on a major drive to collect and record your stories for Voicing the Garden as Friends, visitors and perhaps former members of staff, so do please put the date in your diary now and come along with your thoughts and memories and share them with us.

The new oral history archive will then form the basis for an extensive sharing programme that invites further contributions from visitors, supporters and perhaps even detractors! Just as a plant sets seed to ensure its legacy, the ambition for Voicing the Garden is that the treasure trove of stories will inspire a whole new digitally savvy generation to share their memories, emotional connections and understanding of just what the Garden, its collections of plant diversity and its green space means in the lives of all who experience and enjoy it.
Publication Date