Restore's front garden during lockdown

Your unsung garden heroes

After we asked you to submit for your own personal garden heroes, here are three stories of people using gardening and horticulture for the better

After highlighting a few unsung garden heroes in the community garden sphere, we thought we’d ask you all for your own personal garden heroes. We were looking for people who were doing whatever they could to change people’s worlds, whether that be for a neighbour, volunteering in a local garden, or just connecting and advising gardeners. Lots of names were submitted from all over the world and unfortunately we couldn’t highlight all of them. Instead we’ve picked three which inspired us, and will hopefully inspire you, in the way they’ve been using gardening and horticulture to connect with and help others.

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Here are their stories, as told by people around them.

Unsung garden heroes

Thomas Williamson

Tom Williamson
Tom Williamson

Submitted by David Gallacher

“Tom has spent the last 12 years developing his small suburban garden in Bonnybridge central Scotland. He opens the garden for charity to show others what can be achieved on a budget without the budget look – no pallets or car tyres, for example! His ethos is about buying out of season and buying plants after they have flowered and therefore reduced, seeds when in the sale.”

“Tom has ongoing sight problems and is partially sighted but he has been determined not to let it stop him. During lockdown his Facebook page, Tom’s Hidden Garden gained over 500 new members. On the page he posts helpful garden tips and information to try to help people get through lockdown and there are members from all over the world who look forward to posts.”

“Over the last few years he has raised over one thousand for animal rescue charities and his garden is wildlife and bee friendly with residents hedgehogs large range birds with resident turtle doves, Tom’s only aim is to help and encourage small gardens.”

From a Facebook user Moira Grant

“I joined Tom’s Hidden Garden Facebook group in the dark of winter when I was planning how to rejuvenate the very neglected garden I’d acquired when I moved house. Gardeners everywhere share a bond and Tom and the many other members keep my spirits up with their glorious plants and gardens, worldwide. I have got so many ideas and tips that even during the gloom of lockdown, I was able to create my own little piece of heaven with the help of our wonderful online plant retailers.”

“I had to celebrate lockdown easing by visiting Tom’s garden, which is only five minutes from my own. It did not disappoint – all the colours of that rainbow of hope with which we have become so familiar and a profusion of scents. And, guess what, I came home with yet another plant!”

Vanessa Watson

Vanessa Watson

Submitted by Nila Watson from Croydon

“My Mum is 65 and has been my main carer my whole life. I have a muscle wasting disease, which means I need her for everything. Since March 3rd my family have been shielding me and the garden mum has created has been our lifeline. She has grown vegetables with my six year-old daughter Noella; planted beautiful flowers all around the garden; created shady spaces for my wheelchair, and transformed the garden into our oasis.

Having been unable to go out for four months, spending time in the fragrant, tranquil and beautiful garden has kept my spirits up and reminded me of the beauty of the outside world.”

Susan Brown

Sue Brown with Laurent (middle) and her two sons
Susan Brown with Laurent (middle) and her two sons

Submitted by Laurent Cadoret, from the charity Restore, an Oxfordshire mental health charity that supports people to take control of their recovery, develop skills, and lead meaningful lives.

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“Sue has been volunteering for our charity Restore for over 10 years now. She comes regularly to help us out in the garden to make it as welcoming, beautiful for our members, the staff and the public as possible. Come rain or shine, hot or cold, she will be out looking after one of the borders, doing some weeding, pruning, helping plan the current and next gardening season. She does so with plenty of energy, panache and a little cheekiness. We all love her to bits as she puts so much of herself into the garden helping to improve or maintain everyone’s well being.”