By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener The Wildlife Gardener expects to drop down dead in the tomato bed (like Vito Corleone in The Godfather) at the age of 92. Between trips to collect my pension from the post office (or printing pension vouchers off my email account, post offices having long ago been turned into executive flats) I will be cutting hedges, slubbing out the pond, mowing lawns, growing veg and pruning fruit trees. Or will I?
I’m usually full of energy, but a recent nasty bout of ‘flu and a chest infection, where I couldn’t bear to look at the garden, let alone do anything in it made me think about what I’d do if I really couldn’t tend it. I couldn’t bear to see it become an overgrown jungle (although the wildlife would really love that), and having a gardener seems a prohibitively expensive cop-out. So as I was reading May’s edition of the wonderful Kitchen Garden magazine, I noticed an article on the Isle of Wight’s Adopt-A-Garden scheme. On closer inspection, the scheme was initiated by none other than The Wildlife Gardener’s fellow Naturenet columnist Ray Harrington-Vail.
Lots of Isle of Wight residents with gardens have become too old or unwell to look after them. Waiting lists for allotments on the IOW are long. Many younger, enthusiastic gardeners do not have enough growing space for their veg. So Adopt-A-Garden has come into being to marry up those who want a veg patch with those who need their garden tending. No money changes hands. It’s a beautiful example of barter: The householder gets their otherwise deteriorating garden tended for free, and the gardener gets a free allotment. The scheme is also endorsed by The Isle of Wight Council. Anyone currently on the allotment waiting list is encouraged to join Adopt-A-Garden.
Over the next 14 months, Adopt-A-Garden hopes to match up 50 gardens with 50 gardeners. If you are interested in joining or supporting the scheme, telephone 01983 822282 or email: email@example.com The Wildlife Gardener wonders if Adopt-A-Garden might find its way north for my dotage, and how I would react to whippersnappers tilling my soil. Would I sit in a bath chair and appreciatively contemplate a shirtless, double-digging young buck? Would I be able to resist the temptation to hobble outside and say, “you don’t do it like that”, “you mustn’t plant garlic next to broad beans” or “you’ve missed a bit”? Probably not. But Adopt-A-Garden is a fantastic scheme, and provided householders are not as grumpy and curmudgeonly as The Wildlife Gardener will inevitably be, it will be a great success.