Keen followers of all things gardening and allotments in Northern Ireland will have come across The Gardening Group which has thousands of followers across Facebook and YouTube.
Run by Bill Love, also known as Bill Gardener, from his allotment in his back garden in North Belfast.
Bill says: “I turned 40 and I fell in love with gardening.’’
He admits that growing up there wasn’t much gardening in his family and that it seems to have skipped a generation from his Scottish grandfather’s generations.
“I remember my dad telling me that grandad used to love growing turnips and beetroot and other vegetables in his back garden.”
Because of this skip in the generation Bill has set up the Facebook page and YouTube channel, The Gardening Group.
There is something very special sitting on your allotment on a summer’s evening with a glass of wine and listening to the birds sing, it’s pure heaven.Bill Love
He remarks: “One of the reasons why I record myself and make them into videos for YouTube as it I love sharing ideas and its something to look back on as years go by.’’
Bill’s Allotment was first setup two years ago as Ulster Allotment Diary but had to be scrapped because “people around the world hadn’t a clue where Ulster was”.
He said: “I went back to simply Bill’s Allotment and that channel does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s Bill and his allotment.
‘‘It’s simply a Belfast man with his mobile phone walking around his allotment chatting and making quirky and informative little movies.
“I am trying to put a little bit of comedy into what I do. I like to add a little bit of Northern Irish humour.”
Bill has found that his interests are now broadening beyond just gardening.
He says: “I have also found that I am developing a great passion for photography and film making, so I am finding it fascinating that as I have trodden down the gardening path I have stumbled across even more passions.’’
Before re-locating his allotment to his back garden, Bill had a plot at Ballysillan Allotments.
“It was a piece of field, there was nothing there. It had all sorts of problems. My secret was to go down to the allotment regularly during the winter come hail, rain and snow, and I just worked piece by piece, sod by sod.
“I worked until I felt tired and then I went home. I took lots of photographs and from them I sat at home and planned out my allotment. As my ideas about the allotment grew, so did my enthusiasm for gardening.
“It gave a very personal touch. I had been given a slice of land and I was able to design it whichever way I wished. I loved doing it and I did it one bed at a time.
“There is something very special sitting on your allotment on a summer’s evening with a glass of wine and listening to the birds sing, it’s pure heaven.”
For anyone thinking about taking on an allotment Bill has this advice.
“You need to ask yourself a series of questions, the first being why am I taking this allotment on.
“You also need to ask yourself if you have the time to devote to it.”
The Gardening Group can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/365745710489361/.
Bill’s You Tube channel can be found at: www.youtube.com/channel/UCMZoFzJwOA43IKJoxlBpMIw.