Gardening the write way – Tim becomes Leicester beauty spot’s first poet in residence
A writer will be adding to his growing reputation after being appointed the first-ever poet in residence at the University of Leicester’s Botanic Garden.
Leicestershire-based novelist, Tim Relf, has been given a 12-month residency at the city beauty spot, in Oadby, and its sister site, the Attenborough Arboretum, in Knighton.
“I was transfixed by the Garden the first time I visited so it’s a real honour to have this role,” said Tim, who is a passionate amateur gardener, Penguin-published novelist and poet.
“The idea came to me after I heard about a resident poet at a cathedral, and I thought ‘there’s a wonderful garden at the University and wouldn’t it be a marvellous opportunity to be a poet in residence there?’. So, slightly cheekily, I drop the University a line and said ‘hey, do you want a poet in residence?’ and they invited me in to chat about it and we hatched a plan.”
Tim, who swapped London for the idyllic village of Drayton seven years ago, will be in post throughout 2023 to celebrate the gardens, encourage people to think about plants and the natural world in new ways and inspire them to get gardening.
The Botanic Garden underpins scientific research and teaching at the University and provides education programmes aimed at all age groups, reaching out into the community to demonstrate the contemporary significance of plants in a rapidly changing world.
Tim plans to produce a body of work inspired by the garden and arboretum, including a poetry writing workshop in May.
He said: “The main element of my residency is writing poetry inspired by the garden, including seasonal elements and the rare plants here. It’s my job to spread the message of the garden and the joys and benefits of gardening.
“Gardening is amazing. It can help you relax, is great for your mental health, provides exercise and it makes you aware of the natural world, climate issues and the environment – and with the cost of living crisis in mind, it can also help you put food on the table.”
Tim added: “What I love about this garden is, while it is firmly in Leicester, it can transport you to desert areas and tropical spaces. There’s some very rare specimens and so much colour, it’s a place to be inspired and a place to learn. Every time I come here I learn something new.
“Hopefully my series of poems inspired by this beautiful place will encourage others to try writing and spark a curiosity about plants and horticulture.”