ENGLISH THROUGH GARDENING was created to meet the needs of our partners in the REEP McLAREN Scholarship. Every two years this scholarship enables three early-career gardeners in Morocco, Britain and Spain to spend time together in one of their countries creating a garden in association with a local organisation. They also visit notable garden sites, especially historical ones.
Sometimes other volunteer gardeners become involved – for example at the ongoing project in Marrakesh for a boarding house benefitting young women from rural areas. Here gardeners from Hever Castle, the National Trust and other gardens have joined Scholars and the young Moroccans to design and create a vegetable garden and to improve other areas. Projects always involve some craft or other activity to promote ways of using the garden and are carried out in the medium of English. Focusing together on creating something special in a new environment is a great way of learning and English Through Gardening is a great way of sharing the experience with the wider world.
REEP has been creating materials and activities related to education and the environment for over 25 years and was an early user of information technology. As a small charitable trust its speciality is innovative projects that create models for others to develop, such as its Anglo-Moroccan Shakespeare Garden at Marrakesh University. REEP aims to work across cultures, places, faiths and history, especially with young people. It promotes different forms of art and communication, for example by creating craft, drama and music that can take place in, or be inspired by, gardens.
The Martin McLaren Memorial Trust
and the European Scholarship
Established in memory of a politician who grew up at Munstead and Bodnant, the Trust has been involved in garden education and exchange for over 30 years through the work of his wife, Nancy McLaren. As Chairman of an Exchange Horticultural Scholarship with the English Speaking Union and the Garden Club of America (GCA), she nurtured many young gardeners and was awarded the GCA’s lifetime achievement medal. This Exchange is now administered by the RHS through its bursaries scheme in conjunction with the GCA.
In 1992, after a tour to an Eastern Europe that was then emerging from communist rule, Nancy responded to requests from Polish gardeners to visit England and formed the Martin McLaren European Gardens Exchange Scheme. Gradually more European countries became involved in these 3-week exchanges for gardeners. Today many of those who run the great gardens of Europe and Britain have reason to be grateful for her vision. Part of the Scholarship was transferred to the National Trust in 2008 where it flourishes, providing opportunities for learning from and with colleagues in Europe.