Beautiful Perth's changing experiences

Monica Straughan from Beautiful Perth, last year’s UK RHS Britain in Bloom Champion of Champions winner, shares how they have been adapting during Covid-19.

“Over the last six months, we in Beautiful Perth have gone from the pride and euphoria of being crowned RHS Britain in Bloom Champion of Champions to the reality of being unable to run any of our usual voluntary sessions because of Covid-19. At this time of year, we would expect to be out planting, weeding and litter picking all over our Fair City. Instead, we’re all staying at home, carefully following social distancing guidelines. It’s quite a change!

 “That’s not to say our volunteers are feeling totally isolated or lacking in things to be grateful for (many of us are spending more time in own gardens, which are looking better than ever this year)! Our WhatsApp group has also grown – it has morphed from simply being a tool to alert volunteers to the next activity session, to being a really valuable way of keeping in touch with each other. We share all sorts of things like our own gardening experiences, helping each other identify plants and even sharing funny videos. It’s a great way to feel connected during this strange time.

 “The huge amount of work we did around Perth last year continues to pay off, as we keep getting lovely feedback from local residents about how much they enjoy their local green spaces when they are out for their daily exercise (we’re very lucky that the local Council is still maintaining services like grass cutting). Our flagship project, the heather collection at Riverside Park (winner of the RHS Britain in Bloom Parks & Green Spaces Award 2018 and 2019!) is looking particularly spectacular at the moment, with its 16,000+ heather plants buzzing with bees and other wildlife.

“We had an email from the Compassionate Friends group, a national group for bereaved families, about the memorial garden we have created for them next to the heathers in the Park. They complimented us on how colourful it was looking; we’ve planted wildflowers and native species there and it has become a beautiful, peaceful place for contemplation, as well as for local people passing by on their daily exercise.

“We have recently secured funding for further work in and around the heather collection, including creating new heather beds and preparing a bid to create a national collection of Erica carnea. We would have been starting on that work now but have had to put most of it on hold. Some elements that don’t require physical contact are going ahead though, including further research for a book about Perth’s rich horticultural history. This has revealed more facts about the prolific market gardens that used to operate around Perth, and suggestions from the 19th century about planting vegetables for health – an echo from the past that is still appropriate in these days of lockdown!

“There are some great resources online now and we will do what we can to be ready to go when restrictions are lifted and the ‘new normal’ is established.

“We count ourselves very fortunate to live in this Fair City, and as soon as it is safe to do, we’ll be back out in our community, fulfilling our mission to make Perth a beautiful place to live, work and visit.”

13 May 2020

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