Tom sitting on his allotment
Here we explore Tom's journey with gardening, how he brought his drag persona into new territory and what led to him sharing the stage with Thrive at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.

The break up that led to Tom's gardening journey

As can so often be the case, it was a difficult break up that led to a new beginning in Tom's life. On his commute to Birmingham he would often spot some allotments out of the window and was becoming increasingly curious about them. The break up was enough to turn his curiosity into action, he wanted to get his own allotment space.

Initially, being in his new gardening space acted as therapy for Tom, helping him to cope after the loss of his relationship. However it didn't take long before gardening became a lifestyle for him.

It wasn't long after he began gardening that he started to connect with people through social media. He found the online gardening community to be very welcoming, offering advice and support to one another.

That’s what I love about gardening. There’s always something new to learn.

How gardening has improved Tom's wellbeing

Not long before Tom started on his own allotment, he had lost two family members and was going through a difficult grieving process. He felt his visits to his allotment provided him with a rare opportunity to take time out for himself.

Tom found this time away from technology whilst connecting with nature very important, where he could simply focus on one task at a time. He would often 'lose himself' in the gardening process and found this to be very healing for him at a time when his mental health was declining. He was amazed by just how much clarity gardening provided for him.

There was a lot of symbolism around him whilst he was in the garden. At a time when he felt surrounded by death, he could see so much life growing around him. Life that he had created. This sentiment was further by seeing wildlife such as bumblebees coming to visit his flowers.

As much as you're helping your garden, your garden is helping you.

Daisy Desire at Hampton Flower Show 2022
Daisy Desire at Hampton Flower Show 2022

How Tom stepped into the Daisy Desire persona

Tom started getting into drag about a year ago. He did it as a way of giving people something to smile about during lockdown. However, people really loved the new persona, who was eventually named Daisy Desire.

One of the things Tom loves most about Daisy is that she takes the intimidation away from gardening, encouraging others to give it a go themselves. A lot of people think that gardening is difficult or not for them, whereas Daisy shows that anyone can try it, and it might just be one of the best things you do to grow your own plants.

Despite the light-hearted nature around being in drag, Tom still wants to ensure he is a respected figure in the gardening world. He is currently studying level 2 horticulture with RHS, and has nearly finished training as a horticultural therapist.

Tom has experienced a lot of negativity online. In response to this, he studies horticulture meticulously, because he knows if he is to ever make a mistake relating to horticultural knowledge online or on TV, people would be quick to send him hateful messages and try to discredit him.

He does however take reassurance from the fact that this negativity is a byproduct of success, that comes with the territory of causing waves in the gardening world. His social media following is still growing exponentially, as are his TV and other media requests.

Joining forces with Thrive at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

Last year, Hampton Flower Show is where Tom first went to an event in full drag. He was terrified to put drag into a world where it didn't currently exist. In contrast to this, a year later he finds himself hosting a talk on the main stage at the very same event.

Tom will be delivering two talks alongside Thrive's Learning and Technology Officer, Freddie Watson-Stubbs, with the focus being on how gardening can improve people's wellbeing. Tom is passionate about the difference gardening can make in people's lives and wants to share this positive message.

Tom invited Thrive to collaborate with him for this talk as we are able to legitimise his thoughts on gardening for wellbeing, as we have been providing social and therapeutic horticulture for over 40 years. He was looking for a professional in the field and described the partnership with Thrive as 'a fabulous match'.

He also invited Thrive to provide us with the opportunity to receive more exposure, so that more people can see the difference we make in people's lives using gardening. He feels strongly that if even just one person were to walk away and get in touch with Thrive to help with their wellbeing, that would be a great outcome.

The talks will be on at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival on Friday 8th July, and we're looking forward to teaming up with Tom!

I’m not trying to tell people what to do, I’m just sharing my experience and Thrive can talk more about the science behind it as they are so knowledgable about the benefits of gardening.

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