“I vividly remember the sheer joy my mum got from garden visiting…”
Rosie Dale’s mother, Pam, suffered from osteoporosis from an early age – and it was garden visiting that proved to be welcome respite from the condition. Inspired by her mother’s love of going to private gardens, Rosie is now set to open her own garden for the first time.
“Mum had arthritis when she was just 32 and as she got older, her condition worsened. She was eventually diagnosed with severe osteoporosis, had knee replacements and used crutches from the age of 65,” explains Rosie. “She was a really keen gardener and felt devastated she couldn’t look after her cottage garden like she used to, so dad did things like built raised beds and put runner beans in tubs so everything was more accessible. But it was garden visiting that really brought her pleasure in the midst of the struggles with her condition.”
Pam bought the National Garden Scheme’s Garden Visitor’s Handbook, fondly known to many as the Yellow Book, every year. “She got her first Yellow Book in 1978 and religiously followed it. I remember her waiting for the new one with anticipation every year. My dad drove her all over to see gardens and one of my fondest memories is mum dressing up for the visits – she’d go in smart clothes and a hat,” said Rosie.
“The garden visits made her so happy. Just looking at the flowers and plants, and other people’s creations really inspired her. Particularly because she couldn’t do her own garden anymore, so she really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to other garden enthusiasts about what they’d grown, and what worked and what didn’t. It was really therapeutic for her.”
Sadly, Pam passed away in 2014 – but she left a love of gardens with her unsuspecting family, as Rosie explains. “I have never been interested in gardening but after my mum died I felt inspired to get out in my own garden and see what it was all about. And I actually began to really enjoy it.
“We’ve got half an acre of garden and it has been transformed it from its previous state. There are statement trees, lots of spiky foliage and big open spaces for the grandchildren to run around. My friends and family call it ’50 shades of green’! And my husband, who was also never into gardening, has built a vegetable garden, which is his pride and joy.
“We had so many comments about the garden and I started to think about whether we might be able to open for the National Garden Scheme. I vividly remember the sheer joy my mum got from going to lots of different gardens and the difference it made to her and her condition, so I decided it was time to give back.”
Rosie is now set to open her garden in Barlborough in Derbyshire for the first time – with her National Garden Scheme debut booked for July 2019. “It would be fair to say gardening has brought us lots of enjoyment, and has even changed our lives. And that’s all thanks to my mum. Now we hope to make lots of people feel as happy as she did when stepping through someone else’s garden gate.”