Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Demand for gardening has ‘never been stronger’


There is an increasing number of people looking to get involved in gardening not only to feed themselves or for aesthetic reasons but also as a way to keep fit, it has been suggested.

This is the claim of president and chief executive of the Chicago Botanic Garden Sophia Siskel after the institution announced that for the third year in a row attendance improved.

In 2011 the Chicago Botanic Garden set an all-time attendance record, managing to generate 953,864 visits, which represents an increase of 5.4 per cent or 49,000 more visits than 2010.

August saw its highest attendance in a month ever in the garden’s 40-year history with 134,049 visits.

Much of this has been put down to the organization’s ten-year strategic plan in 2009. Dubbed Keep Growing, the plan sets annual goals and benchmarks for the four operational areas of the garden including Community Programs, Visitor Experience and Education.

“As we begin the third year of the ‘Keep Growing’ strategic plan, demand for the garden has never been stronger, and our relevance and impact have never been greater,” Ms Siskel added.

She continued and said that visitors have come to rely on the garden as a place to enjoy and gain knowledge, as well as using it as a place to take respite after a hard day of work.

“We believe that people live healthier, better and more satisfying lives when they can create, care for and enjoy a garden,” the garden’s president and chief executive officer said.

Celebrated garden designer and television host Sean Conway said, writing in the Chicago Tribune, now is the time that people will start to think about what to grow this year as the first signs of spring are beginning to show.

Mr Conway added that the mild winter that has been seen in the area could mean that some spring bulbs will have already broken the surface of the soil. A sudden cold front will not destroy the bulbs so worry not, they will come out in their own time.

The expert also said that some plants such as winter honeysuckle, or Lonicera fragrantissima, which is native to eastern China, will be beginning to show that daylight hours are starting to increase and the scent of the shrubs will help to bring anyone out in to the garden in excitement.

The Three Friends of Winter event is currently being held at the Chicago Botanic Garden and it promises to show a glimpse into the inner working of the hardy breeds pine, plum and bamboo.

Greenhouse pots