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In praise of plants

Jamie Atwell, garden volunteer

I’m not a ragamuffin in Covent Garden, but something much more rewarding.

I and my fellow Fulham Palace garden volunteers are responsible for stocking and maintaining the produce and flowers for sale on the barrow in the walled garden. There is, I think, something deeply satisfying about harvesting this wonderful organically grown produce – whether that be potatoes, tomatoes, chard, asparagus, beans or a whole other cornucopia. I have to confess that I’m not so proficient when it comes to cut flowers. Something I leave to my more dexterous and artistic colleagues.

All sale proceeds from the barrow are ploughed back into the garden. I’ve said it before (and I’m not shy about repeating it) but I cannot think of a better example of a virtuous circle. Crops are grown; sold on the barrow; funds received go towards seeds etc for the next season and so the cycle continues.

Or rather it did.   We are all having to face up to the world of Covid-19.

BUT (and it’s a very happy but) this is by no means the end of the story. Head gardener Lucy Hart, her full-time gardening team and their other colleagues at Fulham Palace have come up with a cunning plan.  If you log on to the Fulham Palace website and visit the online shop (specifically barrow products) you will find a whole range of plants and produce available for sale. Essentially, it’s a ‘click and collect’ service’. It’s very straightforward – place your order (and pay for it naturally); select your collection time slot; turn up at the appointed time (remembering social distancing) and away you go with a bag full of healthy, organic produce for you to raise in your own garden.

I’ve now done this twice, so am busy tending my newly acquired tomato plants, chillis and mange-tout. For my next shop, I’m probably going for some Echiums – a wonderful plant that can grow to four metres high and is adored by bees,

Like many charities, Fulham Palace is facing difficult and uncertain times. Purchases from the ‘virtual barrow’ mean that (1) we are all helping to maintain the wonderful garden; and (2) we can all enjoy the raising and harvesting of such marvellous produce at home.

Happy gardening !