The Week in the Life column with Keith Tordoff

Sarah, Tracey and Tim from the Pateley Bridge in Bloom group water the wildflower meadow.
Sarah, Tracey and Tim from the Pateley Bridge in Bloom group water the wildflower meadow.

Have you ever imagined being cast away alone on a desert island? I am sure we all have at some point in our lives, whether it be dreaming about getting off life’s roller coaster for a minute or just being able to chill out on a tropical beach.

The long running BBC radio four programme Desert Island Discs gives well known people the opportunity to share their castaway dreams. On Sunday joining the illustrious list of people to have been interviewed on the programme was Sue Biggs who is the director general (DG) of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Sue has been the DG of the RHS for 10 years and in her role works with royals, celebrities, professional gardeners, RHS members and the general public.

Sue clearly gets the support of people as in her tenure the membership of the RHS has gone from three hundred and fifty thousand to over five hundred and ten thousand.

Having listened to the programme I think I know why the RHS is such a success with Sue as DG. The reason is because Sue comes from Yorkshire! I could have left it there, but it boils down to the fact she is down to earth, speaks from the heart with passion and common sense just as Yorkshire folk tend to do! It is well worth listening to the Desert Island Discs radio programme on catch up with Sue Biggs who has a fascinating story to tell and she is truly an inspirational lady.

Even though Sue heads the prestigious RHS, her approach to gardening is down to earth and optimistic. She describes when planting a seed, you take a leap of faith, nurturing it and then remain optimistic that nature will do the rest – a bit like life.

I was so relieved when I heard Sue talk about gardening in those terms as the Pateley Bridge in Bloom group which I chair have recently planted seeds for a wildflower meadow.

The seeds were sown on a piece of land below the Bridge over the River Nidd but due to the hot weather the ground has looked more like a ‘desert’. We remain optimistic that all will come good for the big day in August when the esteemed judges from the RHS arrive in Pateley Bridge.

The Pateley Bloomers including Kirsty Shepherd, Sarah Jones, Tracey Tinsley, Judy Buller and Tim Ledbetter have been giving their all in nurturing the large meadow by carrying buckets of water from the River Nidd to pour on the meadow.

Wildflower meadows around the country have in recent years been disappearing at an alarming rate due to urbanisation which has affected natures balance.

The wildflower meadows are a natural habitat for wildlife including bees whose numbers have been in decline in recent years.

The benefits of wildflowers for the environment and cost savings have fortunately been recognised by many local authorities. Instead of grass having to be cut on roadsides, verges, roundabouts etc. wildflowers are being seeded saving costs, pollution and helping towards saving the planet – plus the flowers are pretty to look at.

Sue Biggs (DG RHS) said on Desert Island Discs that gardening for her is a love of being outdoors working with plants adding to the natural world. One of the pieces of music she chose to have as a castaway was Born Free sung by Matt Munro which is also one of my favourites which I play loudly and sing along to in my car – my desert island.

Another piece of music chosen by Sue was ‘I Love My Life’ by Robbie Williams – I Love My Life!