- 17 Nov 2004
I don't know about the age of RHS members, but when I studied the General Certificate, we were told that the average age of students on that course was 44, and it did indeed seem to be.
Interesting younger people in plants and growing is a toughie and something that's occurred to me is that we can't leave it all to an organisation like the RHS to teach our children about plants, in the same way that parents can't expect schools to teach manners. It comes down to us, as individuals, to encourage and teach children, starting from an early age.
There was a very thought provoking article a while back about what is called 'plant mentoring' - this is where an adult recognises a child's interest and mentors them, guiding and teaching about plants and growing and answering their questions. That child may seem to lose the interest for a while, but the groundwork has been done and they will be far more likely to come back to gardening later than if they had never been encouraged. Ideally, they wouldn't lose interest at all.
It is one of my few regrets in life that no one noticed my interest in plants when I was very young and that I only came to it seriously when I was in my 30s. So much could have been achieved. It's because of that that I act as a plant mentor to a friend's young son who is gradually gaining the confidence to get out and grow things on his own. I'd like to think that plants will always attract him.