Daisy Desire, The Drag Queen Gardener

Towering head and shoulders above the invited guest list at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, drag queen Daisy Desire brought glamour, verve and attitude to the annual celebration of horticulture

There's another side to this glamorous persona – Daisy’s alter ego – 24-year-old Tom Leonard is a keen gardener and that secret was flamboyantly revealed to the world on social media in lockdown.

“I added drag into gardening in lockdown for a bit of a laugh. I posted it on social media and it went mad. Just two weeks later I went to the garden centre in full drag, and posted it online and it’s been crazy ever since.”

Gardening, the most traditional of pastimes, has a new ambassador, who's ready to shout loud and proud to the world that gardening is for everyone and we're all invited.

There are so many LGBTQ people in horticulture who aren't always celebrated, so I feel privileged to be acknowledged for that.

Daisy’s been gardening for just three years but thanks to those images has already amassed a significant following on social media. “I used to see allotments from the train window on my way to work, and I was always intrigued by what was going on there,” she said. When a long-term relationship ended, it proved to be pivotal.
“The day I got my allotment I looked at all the brambles and bindweed, and thought ‘I don’t know where to start’. So, I bought some gardening gloves and threw myself into it. As time went on, I just fell in love with gardening.
“I added drag into gardening for fun really – it was during lockdown and everyone was pretty down,” said Tom.

It’s little wonder that Daisy's profile became popular. While lockdown was difficult for all, one of the success stories was the number of people who found solace in gardening. It's estimated that three million people in the UK took up gardening for the first time – possibly with time on their hands through furlough, or obliged to spend time at home and make the best of the situation.

Of those three million, half were under 45 years of age and are unlikely to drop the habit according to current purchasing statistics. With a younger audience finding the information they need through non-traditional sources, Daisy Desire, the Drag Queen Gardener found her platform to break down barriers and cultivate a wider audience.

Often I go and just sit for 20 minutes [in my allotment]. After a long day it’s wonderful to just sit and look at what I’ve grown and nurtured.

“What I love the most about adding drag into horticulture is that the audience for gardening is considered over a certain age, while the audience for drag is generally a younger generation – so I’m bringing drag to the older generation and gardening to the younger generation,” she said.
“I love that I get to shake up the gardening world a bit because no-one really knows where to place me… What brings me so much joy is that I know there are going to be kids out there who see a drag queen at a gardening show – it gives them permission to know that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be yourself. Actually no, it’s beautiful to be different and to be yourself.”
Finding Our Way by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen
The Florence Nightingale Garden by Robert Myers
Several gardens at Chelsea this year promoted health and wellbeing – notably The Florence Nightingale Garden, which celebrates the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale's birth in 2020 and celebrates the nursing profession, and Finding Our Way: An NHS Tribute Garden – an immersive space with soft textures and a warm palette that draws attention to the work of the NHS through the Covid pandemic.
“Gardening can be a kind of mindfulness and that’s why I think it’s so important to get this younger generation into gardening. They are so open to trying new things. As Daisy I have a platform to talk about the mental wellbeing side of gardening.”


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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.