From a very young age I knew gardening was for me. Although at that stage in my life, I hadn’t realised that gardening would be a constant battle, both within the garden and with myself. It is battle that you do not always win. It can be both physically and mentally draining, it can heartbreaking and if you garden professionally …. it can also be financially very hard.

Inside the garden, you are constantly under attack by the weather and the wildlife. You question many of the methods that you use to tackle the problem: is it bad for the environment?; is it bad for yourself and others?; and we are not just talking about chemicals. There are many other factors: what we plant and where; the introduction of new plant species and wildlife to tackle a particular pest/problem; the use of machines; its affects on others and the environment. Also, this is mainly aimed at the professional horticulturalist, there is also the financial cost, the affects it has on you and your family, plus can you support and provide that safe and healthy standard of life we all need.

Sounds all very dark and gloomy doesn’t it, but even saying this all, where there is dark there is also light. For many of the problems we have in the garden and in life, an answer can always be found … just sometimes the answer can be a little difficult to find at first.

One of the best ways I find that helps is by talking to others, especially listening to those from the world of horticulture. Everything from gardening issues, right down to the problems that life can bring outside of the garden. Life is hard for many at the moment and I’m not saying that gardeners have it any worse than others, but life for those in the horticultural trade has often been very tough for many. I myself have had to do battle with the wolves at the door, admittedly things did improve slightly when I was made up to Head Gardener in 2010, but with a young family …. the going is still very tough. There are many organisations out there that can help those in horticulture: Citizens Advice Bureau, The Professional Gardeners Guild and Perennial (Gardeners Royal Benevolent Society). For those of you who have not heard of Perennial, they are the national charity for those who have worked in horticulture and their spouses/partners when they face adversity or need.

As for the gardening problems we do have many organisations we can turn to. We also have books, magazines, TV (not my most favoured), the internet (including Twitter and sometimes Facebook) and of course lets not forget …. the Library. My most favoured method is listening to others, both professional and amateurs alike; the one unlikely source for me …. is doing tours of the gardens at Trinity. I do approximately half a dozen tours a year taking round both professional and amateur gardeners, on the way round you often pick up tips and those little gems and golden nuggets of information that can help with your problems within the garden. So talking to others with the same interest and passion is a great way of learning and we can all learn from each other.

As I mentioned earlier, to have a dark side there must also be a light side. I have mentioned some of the difficulties that come with gardening, plus a few ways they can be helped So lets not forget about the rewards that gardening can bring because gardening for me is the most rewarding/educational job there is.

With a title like “The Dark Side of the Garden”, I had to include the following song. Especially as some of it’s  meaning is about- the importance of living one’s own life and not being afraid to care!

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