Grubby gardeners

When the going gets tough, the tough get their kit off. All, of course, in the best possible taste as it is in aid of the gardeners' charity, Perennial.

Nudity is traditional in gardens: after all the world’s first gardeners, Adam and Eve, were skipping around without a stitch on for most of their time tending the Garden of Eden. Who knows, perhaps if the unfortunate serpent based incident had never happened then clothes would never have been invented. There would be no branches of Primark, no Coco Chanel and no Marks and Spencer. Mind you we would also be very cold and covered with scratches so that proves that there are silver linings to every cloud.

The nude gardener thing has continued and the first weekend in May has been reinvented as World Naked Gardening day (we tried this last year with mixed success) and now an enterprising band has taken a leaf from the story of the Womens’ Institute Calendar Girls and has produced a calendar for 2015 featuring the taut buttocks and toned pectorals of a number of professional gardeners. This group first came together as the Grubby Gardeners to do a sponsored mud run which raised ¬£6,000 for the horticultural charity, Perennial.

The initial idea came from Michael Perry, the new product manager at Thompson and Morgan (and, incidentally, the most prolific ‘selfie’ taker in horticulture) who managed to cajole a posse of horticulturists (chaps only) to turn up at the Kensington Roof Gardens on a cold morning prepared to be photographed by Debbie Monique Jolliff. She had them posing in various garden situations with only a carefully positioned watering can or dibber to preserve their modesty. Andrew Wain, a head gardener from Wiltshire, remembers ” The Roof Gardens are just amazing! You soon forget that you are on a roof in the middle of London, the atmosphere on the day of the shoot was great. We were all clearly very nervous about bearing all, but the generous amounts of beer provided by the team at the roof gardens helped us all relax.”

The calendar is available to buy for a modest £9.99 from the Perennial website here. The perfect Christmas present for anybody who likes gardens Рand is not of a nervous disposition.

Perennial itself was formed in 1839 as the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Fund to help anybody involved in horticulture who finds themselves in straitened circumstances through debt, disability or old age. Last year Perennial helped over 1,200 people most of whom were still of working age. There are some very moving case histories on their website. 2014 was the 175th anniversary and they set out to raise ¬£175,000 this year: all calendar sales go towards that target. For more information try www.perennial.org.uk

The Grubby Gardeners are:

  • Michael Perry
  • David Lewis
  • TrevorBurke,
  • Neil Miller
  • Ryan Beauchamp
  • Matthew Western
  • Andrew Wain
  • Ben Pope
  • Darran Jaques
  • Andrew Lane
  • Rocky Coles
  • Alec Jones
  • Daniel Stanton
  • Marcelo Serafim
  • Tom Frost
  • Ben Jones

Follow the Grubby Gardeners on Twitter @grubbygardeners