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Show of Hands

Show of Hands – Chelsea Fringe

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.