Friendship stories

There is always happy banter, lots of laughter and lively chat between the Bloom group volunteers

Henrike’s friendship story

Henrike Yates (second from left) moved to Kinnesswood in Scotland and joined the local Bloom group. Henrike has found friendship and a wonderful sense of belonging through being involved in community gardening.

As a German-British family, our life took us from London to Germany and back to Scotland to finally settle. We found our house in this wonderful village of Kinnesswood (near Kinross) with its local garage, the village store and the many residents who live here.

To have community was important for us as we settled back from Germany at this late stage in our lives – and we have truly found our spot and place within this hub.

I will forever remember the day we drove to Kinnesswood for the first time to view, what was to become, our house and home. On entering the village, you pass green grass banks either side. There were colourful plant tubs, with enchanting, vibrant and glorious plants in them, sitting on carpet-like lawn.

“We felt instantly that someone really cares for this place. How does this work? Who is that?”

As the house found us, and we fell in love with it and bought it, I asked the owner who said: “Oh that is Kinnesswood in Bloom.” Before I knew it, I was a member of this group.

Henrike Yates (right) and John Nicol from Kinnesswood in Bloom

Kinnesswood Tots Garden looking bright and colourful

Our activity mainly takes place on Saturday mornings. Each week I met new members. It did not take long to hear and get to know each other’s stories – about personal situations, joys, sorrows, worries – and also simply fun stories with lots of laughter. There is always happy banter and lively chat whilst we are hacking away, weeding, planting, putting things right and creating; and simply enjoying being together while shaping our village. Car drivers pass us and hoot the horn in greeting and as a ‘thank you’. How about that?

Then came the competitions and awards; something I had not experienced before. The run up to the judging, the many hours of additional gardening and village activity, regardless of chafed hands and fingers and surely the odd backache to go along with it. And the joy, when recognition is awarded by the official bodies, who give this community activity credence and support – even though we are just a village on this island of the UK.

The village is made up of vibrant, interesting, friendly, caring and supportive persons. We are all in the same boat as to the joys and challenges in our lives – and being in the midst of it puts so many things into perspective.

“The group has made me feel that I have arrived, I belong, I have friends – and that this is my village.”

As well as scooping Gold and being named Village joint category winners at the Britain in Bloom UK Finals in 2023, Kinnesswood in Bloom were also awarded a Discretionary Award. The group demonstrated excellence and won a Children and Young People’s Participation Award. The Bloom group have a long-term partnership with Portmoak Primary School, which has led to some fantastic results for the community, showing just what can be achieved when schools and groups work together. Recent projects include a school pond, wooden wigwams, a willow tunnel and the planting of 135 orchard trees as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy.

You might also be interested in...

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.