Friday, 31 December 2010

The birth of a new blog - we hope you'll join us as we build a garden the other side of the world!

Sussex Prairies in bloom in the summer
This is the beginning a new adventure for four intrepid travelling gardeners! We'd like to introduce ourselves because we're going to India to plant a garden and we hope you'll follow us on our journey. 
Sounds simple, or maybe just extraordinary, but if we tell you a little more about the history of this project, you may understand why we're doing this! 
Charlotte is already well established in the blogging world and goes under the name - The Galloping Gardener - and for those of you who already know her, you'll be aware that besides visiting gardens around the world at an alarming speed, she's also the founder of The Raven Charitable Trust in Rajasthan.
Paul and Pauline McBride are the brains and brawn behind Sussex Prairies in England's East Sussex - a glorious garden that some of you may already know, planted in Piet Oudolf style; and a wonderful Bed & Breakfast that you may have even stayed in. The fourth team member is Chris Walker, organiser extraordinaire, who's helping with Disha's new Gap Year programme for those taking time off between school and college.
The land before building began
Mowing the grass at Disha
Disha under construction -  November 2009
Disha in November 2010 - ready to open
   Chris has known Charlotte for more years than you'd want to know and he's become involved in the project because he's an amazingly practical person and will be helping set up the "Gap Year" programme planned for 2011. With the hospital up and running and fantastic local contacts in India, the Foundation plans to offer trips to India for school leavers and university students, with opportunities to work in the hospital, out in the local community that it serves and as the network grows, in local schools in Rajasthan.
    At the moment there's no garden at the hospital ... we have land and the ability to mow the grass when it grows (thanks to a local farmer who lends us his oxen), but apart from mud in monsoon season and grass in the dry months, there's nothing growing yet. But that's all about to change because in February 2011 the four intrepid travellers are off to Rajasthan to start making a garden at Disha.
   Paul and Pauline are quite used to making a garden from scratch and are the brains behind this project; Charlotte raised the funds to build Disha and construction was overseen by her partner, Dr Deepak Babel in India (for more on this see our Raven Foundation blog); and Chris is used to organising manpower and management, so his input is vital. And now the four of us are going to work together to make a great garden rural Rajasthan.
So why a new blog?
We're launching this new blog to cover our travels when we visit India and to show how the garden progresses over time. But we'll also be featuring other unique gardens that serve local communities the world over.
    We're all booked to fly out at the beginning of February and we're going to start work on the garden at Disha Hospital when we get there. 
    Our first stop is Ahmedabad, where we'll be looking at an existing hospital garden that's been designed for the patients at Apollo Hospital. Disha is already associated with the hospital and we've been getting a lot of feedback from the consultants about the positive effects that the garden space has on patients.
   After that we head up to Udaipur to start work on the garden, and from there we're heading to the Thar Desert (Jaisalmer and beyond) and continuing on through western Rajasthan, so there will be plenty of photos and updates (as and when we get an internet connection). This great journey starts on February 10, but we will be posting before then as we get ready for the trip and we'd love you to follow our travels. If you're on Facebook you can click on the widget below ....
    You'll see that we've chosen the end of 2010 as our launch day and the reason for this is it's about to be a New Year, a new project and a new garden for Disha Hospital. Hope that you all have a wonderful year and may 2011 be a really special year for you - we are determined that it's going to be a memorable year for The Raven Charitable Trust and all the people it serves! NAMASTE and more soon from Jardins san Frontiers around the world.