I’m sure you remember the Calendar Girls.. then, we saw firemen, marines, even rowers.. but somehow gardeners hadn’t de-clothed for charity yet. So, I’d been hatching a little plan for a few years, eyeing up a range of horticulturists who might be up for it… and more importantly, trying to find the right charity to work with.
Step forward, Perennial. I can’t even remember how I met her, but it was Laura G that invited me down to their 175th anniversary bash at the Roof Gardens. It was there that I wrote out a fund-raising pledge on a calla-shaped tag, fuelled by free champagne.
One of the first events I chose to do was a mud run for the charity.. well, if gardeners are going to get fit, then they need to be muddy at the same time! I assembled a team, and we called ourselves the ‘Grubby Gardeners’… (very nearly ‘The Filthy Horts’!) Our 12km obstacle race was a real blast- thanks to the organizers at Dirty Dozen Races– and we raised a fair chunk of ‘wonga’ for this unique charity.
In case you don’t know much about Perennial- they are the Royal Gardener’s Benevolent Society– and they’re there to help any horticulturist in need- so this means they actually help a wider portfolio of people and problems than most other charities. My grandparents had worked in horticulture all their lives, so it seemed the perfect fit.
When World Naked Gardening Day came along in May, we decided to have a cheeky photo-shoot in the grounds of the Roof Gardens.. within eyeshot of those famous flamingos! The pictures were amazing- and being naked with a group of other men was surprisingly easy- in the right way!
Those pictures made it into the national newspapers, the trade journals, onto the TV (featured on Have I got news for you? no less!), and we made it onto TV OURSELVES, giving the Loose Women gardening tips live in the studio, naked. And, Jamelia was a real scamp!!
The next step was obvious, and it fulfilled my dream of that naked gardening calendar! Laura G swiftly did the amazing work of pulling together photographers, props, PR, and of course, the peni… err.. gentlemen!! Now, I won’t spoil much more by revealing who’s in the pictures and what they’re covered by… but we had a lot of fun with the final shoot this Saturday, and you can pre-order YOUR COPY here!
However, as a little treat, here’s some of those pictures from the World Naked Gardening Day shoot.
But, for the privilege of peeking, maybe you might consider making a little donation to Perennial– you could make a difference to someone, somewhere in the UK.
I hope that, on the back of all this cheekiness, Perennial and their charity work is going from strength to strength, and also beginning to reach a wider audience, so let’s continue to make that happen!