Having lived in Nottingham for many years I have perhaps become guilty of taking our fine city’s gardening culture and heritage for granted. As a youngster in the city I was always aware, when travelling to other towns in the East Midlands, of just how grey and lifeless they were in comparison with my own beloved Nottingham. On stepping off the train I would instantly see the greenery all around was thankful to live in such a place. As I grew older I became much more aware of the reasons behind this. My city does in fact have a very long and rich gardening tradition, and in particular a long-standinding love of trees.
Having been great friends with one of the finest tree surgeons in Nottingham, I learned much about why this has come about. In fact much of the landscape and gardening of the city today originates from the Victorian age. At this time the city was a hard-working industrial hub. Previoulsy no-one had time for gardens, trees or landscapes – they wanted to (or had no option to) work and make money. As the city became more affluent however, so a process of gentrification began. Suddenly there was a bit of leisure time, and gardening became the preferred past-time of the middle classes. Many would argue it still is to this day. It seems that over time, as more and more gardens became landscaped, so the odd garden which remained without any trees or decorative borders, started to stand out, much to the embarrassment and social stigma of the owner. So, social pressures became the localised driving force behind the phenomenon, markedly more-so than in any neighbouring town or cities. Nottingham truly became he gardening centre of the Midlands.
Today this legacy continues to exert its influence on the city. Nottingham has more trees per square acre(and indeed more tree-surgeons) than any other city in the Midlands. What is more the city’s main landscape gardening club is the largest in the whole of the UK. To this day the city holds its annual garden competition, with the first prize going to the best garden in the city. The competition is fierce and the winner much envied – it began in 1874 and by all accounts continues to increase in its entrants year after year. The best thing about it is that he entire cities population, whether “green-fingered” or not, reaps the benefit of Nottingham’s obsession. Certainly the green city is the envy of other local towns in the area and I for one will do my best to make sure it stays that way!
Alice Laarson is a very keen gardener and has lived in Nottingham all her life. She writes for gardening blogs and is an expert in tree care.