Last weekend’s Club Golf Championships were played over the manicured course while the weather behaved to give all those participating a fine summer day. We cannot take all the credit for the conditioning of the course, as the rain over the previous weeks had aided the lushness to create the deep green fairways all enjoyed. However, the team had pulled out all the stops to ensure that the greens played well and true and for which they are to be congratulated.
The Men’s scratch team call our course Roegusta they are so proud to play here which is a wonderful fillip for the greenkeepers. I think the meaning is self-explanatory and we shall certainly own that one. In the landscaping, improvements have been duly recognised. Let us hope that we can continue to raise the bar as we roll out the plan for this winter also.
Next on the redefined Club calendar is the croquet Ranelagh Gold Cup this weekend. Chris Hughes and the team are doing their best to make the lawns as sleek as the greens are. I hope our croquet players and esteemed guests have a fine weekend play ahead of them.
The final story of 2020 is still to be written, there are still the last acts of autumn and winter to play out. But the coronavirus has become the main player in the global human. For all us bit performers in the wings, our lines have been re-written over the last few months and adlibbing has become the standard to the changes we face. How life will be altered in the long term, is the unwritten play awaiting an author. In the short term there has been plenty of actions that have changed our perception of modern living. During lockdown, it was a matter of managing time, how to fill the days and find an equilibrium between activities lost and the elongated nocturnal rest time. Monitoring the media and the market, here are some of the standout trends of this year so far, by-products of the lockdown months.
A whole new generation has found that gardening is a worthwhile cause. Some may say ‘what took you so long’! Between four to eight percent of the population (source: the Garden Industry Manufactures Association) have been turned onto looking after the back yard more intensely than ever. With sales have plants and sundry materials going through the roof during and post lockdown helping floundering nurseries and garden centres make up some profits lost. Some 35% of, what are classed as, ‘occasional gardeners’ have also been actively creative on new projects these past few months that will help drive the market for next year. Their ‘new relationship’ with the garden will divert money spent on holidaying and buying a new car into the garden. Simon McArdle, president of the GIMA believes 2021 ‘is going to be mega as long as the weather is kind’. Intel from our own suppliers support the view that there has been an increase in gardening as an extension of the DIY boom of the past few decades.
There is only so much home make over that can be done during lockdown, as the DIY industry recognizes fashion (for décor) works in cycles and trends. Making the garden that extension of the home living space has upped in priority and is one that the garden market is only too happy to oblige with ideas if messing around with plants is not your thing. Ideas from al fresco dinning solutions with a barbeque kitchen, the home spa come health suite, to the ‘man-cave’ or office at home there are endless possibilities to be creative within the garden. Outdoor living is a multimillion-pound industry, thumb through any garden magazine or interior design glossy and there are possibilities abound.
Since the relaxation by the government to allow the populous to roam freely again, the revival of the picnic has become popular in the intervening time when restaurants were still locked up and now social distancing has altered the eating out experience. The romance of eating outdoors has been a means to allow friends and family to convene with nature for at least the last three hundred years. The French word pique-nique was in use in the post-revolutionary years, when the populous would dine outside in the French royal parks which were previously the reserve for the aristocracy. In the UK, both the meal breaks outside for agricultural workers and the elite, during a shooting party expedition was a rest opportunity from the activities, however strenuous there were. The latter-day picnic can be as intricate as a Mary Berry garden party or as ad hoc has a meal deal from Tesco’s, but they have brought their own problems this year. The Royal Parks have felt the brunt of this trend, with recent weeks seeing unprecedented use of their open spaces. It took staff more than 11,000 hours to clear the litter on the grass alone in June. A total of 258 tonnes of waste was collected across the eight parks, an increase of 32% compared with June 2019. As a result, serious concerns have been raised regarding plastic waste which can trap or be ingested by local wildlife.
Staycations in the UK seem to be on the increase this year, with flight availability being a bit of a lottery and the possibility of last-minute alterations or cancelled flights a growing risk. Cottage retails from Cornwall to Scotland are seeing a good return to business norms, with remote destinations being favoured as a getaway. The rebound of organisations such as the Royal Horticultural Society, National Trust and English Heritage will be underpinned by the many not straying so far from home this year and finding things to do whilst on vacation. The RHS, for example has lost more than £18 million in revenue during the spring/summer of this year, from show cancellations, garden entrance fees, lost shop, and refreshment sales. A large hole to fill in the coffers to say the least. The more prospective members they can have visit this summer, the hopes of rising revenue for the remainder of the year to fill the gaps is anticipated. Many changes are still to come from this pandemic. Our reliance on social media and the internet has increased dramatically over the last year, this is well understood. But also has our appreciation of open spaces for exercise and sport has now become a realization. Whether this is a city park around the corner or one of the National Parks throughout the British Isles, our need for green space for mental well-being as never been so important.
Peter Bradburn | Course and Grounds Manager