Column: ‘Challenges of urban gardening’
By Kim van Rijssen

When I lived in the centre of Beijing from 2009 to 2017, I made it my mission to transform my garden into a lush green oasis. But as my ‘garden’ was nothing more than a jumble of weeds, rubbish and broken tiles, my mission was not as simple as I’d first thought. None the less, my plan entailed two key steps: step 1; buy plants; step 2; buy garden soil.

Accomplishing step one required travelling for an hour and a half by car or subway to the nearest garden centre. As I did not have a car, I took the subway. Four hours later I arrived home with not only as many plants as I could carry but also sore arms and drenched in sweat!

To accomplish step two, I knew that bags of soil would be too heavy to carry on the subway so instead, I found an online supplier. The delivery cost, however, made this a highly expensive solution. As someone living in the centre of a city with a desire for gardening I knew I could not be alone in facing the challenges to urban gardening.

Today I live in Brussels and again I have a small garden and no car. One major difference is that I purchase garden soil in my local supermarket but buying garden plants is still inconvenient and expensive.

Fortunately, times are changing. According to a report by Rabobank, 30% of all flowers and plants in Europe will be bought online by 2027. This is a positive trend for the horticulture industry and for me as a keen urban gardener. My next mission is to embrace modern consumerism and shop online for my Brussels garden makeover.

Kim works for Plantippp BV, a Dutch company specialising in royalty management. Kim spent eight years of her career in Beijing.