I had an interest in the great outdoors from a very young age. I can remember as a child watching mesmerised as hundreds of baby spiders emerged and spread themselves bravely across a web. I wanted to grow veg but my parents didn’t know how, so I threw carrot seeds in the ground recklessly, hoping for the best. While I tried to fit in as best I could at school, my apparently not-very-cool interest withered – until my late twenties, when I began dabbling with growing veg in my back garden.
Even now, nudging into my forties, I still regularly hear people say “you’re a gardener? Aren’t you too young to be doing that?” While I increasingly enjoy hearing the words; “aren’t you too young?”, the idea that “this” should only be enjoyed by an older generation both amuses and grates.
Thankfully things are starting to change, with a growing number of initiatives designed to create a greater awareness and fostering a fun connection with the natural world. Grow Wild’s Youth Takeover exhibition launching this Saturday (June 24) and running until July 9 at Summerhall in Edinburgh is a great example. It’s part of Grow Wild, the national outreach initiative of Kew Gardens that is the UK’s biggest-ever wildflower campaign. Young artists between the ages of 12 and 25 were asked to outline how they would highlight through art the plight of wild flowers and their native meadow habitats (97% of which have been lost since the 1930s), and the bees, butterflies, and other insects which rely on them for food. The resulting artwork, which covers everything from poetry and embroidery through to sculpture and steel band music makes for a vibrant wildflower homage.