Proof that gardening can overcome the Odds

As we relaunch our successful Gardening Against The Odds (GATO), director David Shreeve explains why we’re hoping to get the country sowing, planting, digging, growing and sharing why gardening makes everyone feel so much better.


Gardening Against the Odds – could there ever have been a more apt title for a project today?  And yet the history of GATO goes back over ten years to a blog by Elspeth Thompson who wrote regular heart-warming pieces on the importance of gardening on body and soul for The Sunday Telegraph.


Elspeth Thompson

Elspeth Thompson


The Conservation Foundation joined forces with the paper and Elspeth’s husband, Frank, to create The Gardening Against the Odds Awards as a unique memorial to the much loved writer.



Andrew Barnett

Andrew Barnett was the very first GATO awards winner.


Over the years the Awards put the spotlight on Odds of all kinds – mental, physical, environmental.  As a result we met a wonderful group of people whose lives had been changed, indeed some whose lives had been saved, thanks to gardening of all kinds.  Even sometimes where there was no garden – just an idea and a way to show that someone cared.



Our new Gardening Against the Odds is ‘virtual’ and aims to network the many ways that, despite all the odds, we can all benefit from gardening –  simply seeing new life beginning gives us a new start to a day. It works for me.



Tin cans as flower pots idea from Francine Raymond.


We’re not looking for Chelsea Flower Show and horticultural perfection. We want to encourage first-time gardeners as well as green fingered experts to join in. And what better time to launch a gardening project than in spring, when nature is providing most of the magic if we just do our bit?




If you have a story to tell, please share it, you may think it’s odd, but GATO means odd is good. Please share the word!

We will be using our @gardeningagainsttheodds Facebook page as our main platform for sharing ideas but you will also be able to follow along on our other social platforms.

Twitter @conservationfdn #gardeningagainsttheodds
Instagram @conservationfdn #gardeningagainsttheodds
LinkedIn @theconservationfdn #gardeningagainsttheodds

Or send your pictures, videos and stories to

We all know gardening is good for us. Now’s the time to let your imagination loose, get your hands dirty and start Gardening Against The Odds.


David Shreeve, Director