The Jubilee celebrations have, I am sure, lifted the spirits of many people. I hope you were all able to enjoy some time off with family and friends. Whilst attending the Chelsea Flower Show I was able to meet with colleagues and representatives from many businesses and organisations. Whilst some were cautiously optimistic about the future, there are still many challenges and areas of concern.

During the flower show, two hundred young people were invited to the Chelsea Young Persons Breakfast, sponsored by The Newt in Somerset. We were able to select six young people to attend on our behalf. Both David Richardson and I acted as hosts at the event. Attendees were taken in small groups onto four of the show gardens to meet the designers and others involved in building. Many found this an uplifting experience as it gave an insight into what can be achieved through hard work and commitment. Later on during breakfast there were many professionals on hand to give guidance and advice, highlighting the importance of networking.

I am pleased to say we have held the inaugural meeting of our first specialist interest group, Social and Therapeutic Horticulture. It has long been said that gardening is therapeutic, and I feel sure that on a personal level we have all benefitted from working in our own gardens. For professional horticulturists having the skills to produce borders full of colours, design peaceful areas to sit and reflect in, and create areas where we can replicate the natural landscape. Providing these areas has benefitted many people at times in their lives when they need to draw breath. Being able to produce fruit and vegetables can be a satisfying and positive experience. Professionally we have many members who work in this sector, and the work undertaken, particularly during lockdown, cannot be measured.

The aim of the group is to create a platform where like-minded people can work together for the benefit of them all. We are in the process of forming a committee who, through consultation with other members, will create a programme for the betterment of all. They will be represented on the Council of Trustees.

The work undertaken by the branches is pivotal to our success. I am pleased that regional committees have an active programme of events planned. They are listed on the website. It is hoped that many members will attend. It is an opportunity to re-engage with colleagues after lockdown.

Later this month I am looking forward to meeting in person with branch chairs and council members for the quarterly meeting.

Susan Nicholas FCIHort