I have been meaning to take part in Veg Plotting’s brilliant project dedicated to the hardest working part of most gardeners – their hands – for the last few weeks but I keep getting distracted, generally by gardening. It appears though that I have managed to sneak in my contribution just before the project ends. A ‘Show of Hands’ is part of the Chelsea Fringe, a festival entirely run by volunteers, which celebrates the quirkier, edgier side of horticulture. It runs during May into June and coincides with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The idea of the Fringe is to show that gardening and growing are open to anyone. Gardening does have a reputation for being the preserve of the older generation and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show creates a certain air of exclusivity. The Fringe wants to turn those thoughts on their head. The first Chelsea Fringe took place in 2012 and it’s proved hugely popular. This year there have been over 250 projects with events not just in London but in other UK cities and even further afield in Europe.
Michelle asked people to post up a photo of hands in the context of gardening. It didn’t have to be their own, they didn’t even have to be human. Anna, for instance, on her Green Tapestry blog, posted an image of a sculpture depicting hands which she came across in the gardens of Sudeley Castle. All manner of social media has been put to use with people participating using Twitter, Facebook and blogging. Once the Fringe for 2014 draws to a close, on 8th June, Michelle will create a map showing where all the images have originated.
So, for my contribution Wellyman took a photograph of me holding a bunch of flowers picked from the cut flower patch. It gets you thinking when you focus on something. I probably take my hands for granted. They are so fundamental in my gardening, and writing about gardening; I really should look after them more. I don’t moisturize enough, I’m normally so tired when I get into bed that I forget. But I do have a degree of vanity when it comes to their ‘maintenance’ – I do try to keep my nails looking nice. I rarely garden with gloves. I should wear them more – it would certainly make cleaning them at the end of the day much easier but I find them cumbersome. It’s impossible to sow or take cuttings wearing them so I might start wearing them but inevitably once I have removed them for one task I forget where I’ve put them. My one concession is if I’m planting or weeding in the garden as I’d rather not put my hand in a pile of cat mess.
Increasingly I suffer from allergic reactions to plants. Borage brings me out in a nasty rash and last year during a spot of weeding I discovered echiums and I don’t seem to like each other. My hands were quite a sight, covered in weals and burning like I had never experienced before. It wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if I hadn’t had a photo shoot the next day where my hands would be captured for posterity. Thanks to the wonders of antihistamines my hands were restored to normal by the morning, which is just as well as I think there’s only so much you can do with Photoshop.
I chose this picture because it sums up how much my hands mean to me. They give me the chance to grow beautiful flowers which give pleasure to me, my family and friends. The hands which sow and grow so many plants allow me to also write about my passion for plants. When I think about it they really are fantastic.
Thanks to Michelle for such an inspired idea. If you’d like to join in there’s still time.
Sofia // Papaya Pieces said:
What a beautiful idea. Your hands look lovely actually, and yes very importantly they allow you to do what you love so much: gardening. How annoying it must be that you get allergies sometimes, but yes to to the wonders of antihistamines (and hydrocortisone creams!). I am so lazy at moisturising my hands, I usually only do it in the winter when the weather gets them cracked. Sounds awful I know. I keep my nails ultra short all the other otherwise they will slip and make funny noises on the piano keys. Nop, my hands aren’t the sexiest ones around, but I don’t care because they also allow me to do what I love best: play the piano.
Have a great weekend!
Thanks Sofia. It’s such a great idea of Michelle’s. I was bitten by a mosquito last week and my elbow swelled up quite a bit. If it hadn’t been for antihistamines and hydrocortisone I’d probably be off to the doctors now. My hands crack a lot in winter and look horrible with dry, scaly skin. Yuk! I can see what you mean about nails and the piano. Nails and a computer keyboard can be bad enough. 🙂 Maybe you and Pianolearner should take photos of your hands playing the piano? Hope you both have a lovely weekend too. x
This is just wonderful, thank you Louise 🙂 Your book cover very nearly made it into my introductory post for the inspiration section, this is so much better.
It’s been interesting to see how many people haven’t been wearing gloves for their pictures 😉
At the Fringe launch Matthew Wilson commented at how much younger the GQT audience is for their Fringe edition. It’s good to know that the Fringe shows gardening isn’t the preserve of a single age group. I love its inclusivity and that’s one of the reasons I’m proud to take part.
Thank you Michelle. I love the idea. I kept seeing people’s blogs and thinking right I must do it but then I got distracted. 😉 I’m so pleased I got round to it. I didn’t get to any of the fringe events this year which is a real pity, everything has just come at once this year with work so feeling a bit frazzled trying to keep on top of everything. I’d love to get involved next year.
Danielle Gray said:
I seem to be an oddity in gardening circles – I always wear gloves. I am not vain about my hands, clip my fingernails pretty short and never use moisturiser (actually today I bought my first ever tube of hand moisturiser and only because L’Occitane were having a sale) but I loathe having filthy fingernails so on with the gloves.
I have about a dozen pairs of Showa gardening gloves which have a quite tight fit and are OK for doing things like tying twine etc but I do have to take the gloves off to sow seed or peel labels, etc. Actually, the first thing I do when I head outside is pull on the gardening gloves.
As a result my hands do not look like the hands of a keen gardener at all, more like someone who never does anything outside.
I occasionally think how much I rely on my hands to do things I love like sowing seed, planting, pruning. I don’t know what I would do if I was unable to garden due to losing my hands/arthritis.
I’ll have to look up these gloves. I did have some called Foxgloves but they weren’t robust enough and I ended up with holes in the fingers fairly quickly. Then I found some which were good for the more strenuous garden jobs but they’re a bit clumpy for the more dexterous tasks.
I know what you mean, it’s scary to think of not being able to do the thing we love show much. Have a lovely weekend.
Lovely idea, Louise! I hope the Fringe is more inspiring than Chelsea – I found it rather boring this year.
Thanks are due to Michelle, such a great idea. 🙂 Oh, it’s disappointing to hear you didn’t like Chelsea this year. I thought it was much better than last year and it had a real buzz on the Monday. I don’t know if that was because it was so hot and sunny too. I thought some of the gardens were a bit too Chelsea but I loved those by the younger designers. Have a lovely weekend.
Brilliant post and so glad you’ve found the time to join in! That’s a beautiful photograph and I love that Ian has captured the hand with your wedding rings on as you two are such a team! I had the same problems with glove wearing (or not) then discovered Showa gloves at an RHS show. They’re very lightweight and stretchy but with latex palms so a good grip. Luckily they had them in my size (tiny) and I now wear them all the time when gardening, only switching to my leather gloves when things are getting wet. I still forget to use hand cream at night though, for the same reason as you!
Thanks Caro. You’re the second person to recommend those gloves – will have to take a look. I need some ones anyway – mine have a hole in the finger tip now. Maybe I wear them more often than I think. Have a lovely weekend. x
If your hands are small, you may find it hard to get a pair in your size locally (or online). I always look out for them at the garden shows as the trade stands carry a broader range of sizes. Hope you’re having the same sunshine as us here in London, it’s great gardening weather! xx
What a wonderful idea – and I love your sentiments there at the end. Are you sure you are a gardener with hands like that?! ;). I can’t decide if mine would be a good or bad advert for gardening. Like you, I can’t bear to wear gloves when gardening – total loss of nimbility! So, come the end of the day, with scratches, thorns, dirty and broken fingernails, complete with borage rash (me too!), they’re not a pretty sight! But they would be representative. Mind you, I don’t have youth on my side either. Years of sun have also taken their toll!
Thanks Ali. I was hoping that lens would give a blurry look – you can’t see what my hands look like up close. 😉 I always forget to sun cream my hands and if I do they then get covered in soil or compost and get all sticky. I have started wearing gloves more so my hands don’t get exposed to the sun. Have a lovely weekend.
A most enjoyable Sows of Hands post, which as you say was such a good idea. It was great fun to do a post and read all the other varied contributions. xx
Thanks Flighty. Hope you haven’t had too much rain this weekend and have a had a chance to get to the plot. x
You’re welcome. It was a mix of sunshine and showers yesterday but dry and warm today. I spent this morning pleasurably plotting. xx
Lovely image. I agree that your hands don’t look like they spend much time immersed in soil!
Thank you Eirlys. 🙂 That’s just the super blurry lens. ;0
A most attractive bouquet Louise. Your hands seem to be caressing those flowers with love. Another recommendation for Showa gloves here and also for Briers gloves, which I found in Wilkos last year but not this. I wear gloves more than I used to do especially at the allotment and do feel guilty for not looking after my hands better in the past but time is on your side 🙂 Thanks for the mention xxx
Thanks Anna. I like Briers too although my pair have only lasted one season – I discovered a hole in them the other day. It’s hard to find gloves which allow for nimbleness but also are robust. Will definitely seek out Showa after so many recommendations. It’s funny how you take things for granted then your 40th birthday starts to loom and you start to wish you’d looked bits of your body more. ;0 Not a problem. It was your post that give me the push to get round to writing mine. x
Lovely post about a great topic! I posted my Show of hands recently too! I found some great seedling gloves in Wilkinsons last year – but this year they are a touch too big! Such a shame as they were a really good flexible glove that fitted… well… like a glove, but alas no more! I am known to garden in surgical gloves (when a certain surgery is getting rid of out of date ones!) and these do work well for fine work, rubber washing up gloves are a tougher yet still nimble alternative – but both can be a bit hot! ;o)) I have some good heavy duty gardening gloves that I wear with fleece gloves under for those chilly days. Ahh the array of gloves is extensive!! But still I take them off mid task and forget to replace. No glove has yet proved suitable for seed sowing! I can recommend Organic Surge Tropical Bergamot hand cream – smells delish and very effective for a gardeners hands (they do other varieties – that’s just my fave!)
Thank you! I was wearing latex gloves yesterday but the sweaty hands was disgusting. Still it meant less time having to clean them. That cream sounds lovely, think I might have seen that in Waitrose. Will have to take a look next time I’m in. I’m a huge fan of Neal’s Yard stuff. I do have had cream by my bed, just rarely remember to use it. 😉 I hope all the avocado and oily fish I eat is moisturisering them from the inside….
Your hands are lovely. most of the time I wear gloves for gardening, but some tasks are better without them and then it takes me days to get my nails clean again. My hands are not great, but I like to think of them as gardener’s hands
Thanks Margaret. When I’d stood there trying to get the ingrained dirt form my hands I always wish I’d remembered the gloves. Maybe one day ….
What a lovely photo and a beautiful bouquet. I can’t say that I take much care with my hands, I very rarely use hand cream, but I nearly always wear gloves when I’m gardening. It’s got nothing to do with looking after my hands though, it’s in case they come in to contact with any slimy critters, urghhh.
Great idea – I will look out for the final map of ‘hands’. Alas, mine don’t bear close scrutiny after a hour in the plot…!