Sometimes life can be overwhelming. It can creep up slowly and gently cloud your mind, or knock you sideways and off the tracks
It’s not always easy to find a way through the tough times, but our gardens, greenhouses and nature in general can provide a safe place of peace and quiet.
The very act of sowing seeds and watching them sprout and grow is like a time lapse meditation. The art of pricking out is a lesson in mindfulness as we envisage each and every seed as a mature plant bearing its fruit, leaves and flowers for our delectation.
The garden is a source of great joy for so many of us, but in times of trouble, it can also be a great healer. As we start to emerge not just from our winter slumber but from the shackles of lockdown our gardens become a safe place of contemplation, remembrance and peace. The tranquil haven of a garden or a place in nature has great healing powers for all kinds of mental wounds. Even if you have just a small space you can add to it to create an escape to soothe your spirit. You don’t need to design a Zen garden but you can accentuate your patch so that it feeds your mind and your soul.
You can grow and sow this season to amplify the healing powers of your garden by choosing soothing colours. Look out for pale pastels in white, cream, pink, blue, mauve and lavender with maybe a hint of primrose yellow to create a tranquil tapestry effect that will cool the borders and add to the sense of serenity. Start with a pot or a window box and build on the effect, moving the planters to a seating area where you can retreat when times are tough.
Distraction trains our brain to focus on other things. I love the spring flowers that start to burst in the garden. The tiny bunches of flowering currant flowers opening with their nectar rich mouths bobbing in the breeze. The hellebores standing proud with their tough petalled umbrellas sheltering feeding insects underneath. But these days it is the insects that turn my head. A cold snap has delayed the train of emerging pollinators, keeping those still tucked up in soft woven cocoons and swaddling clothes protected. For the others that braved an early start, it remains to be seen how they fare. Encourage the insects in the garden and tune into their buzz, it’s a healing frequency. Plant the nectar rich flowers and those with pollen-laden anthers. Add the larval plants for butterflies and moths and provide a water source. Embrace all living things and let nature take the lead. Put the buzz back into your garden and tune in to its vibe. Good pollinator plants include Verbascum ‘Snowy Spires’ the flowers attract pollinators and the leaves feed the mullein moth caterpillars.
There are certain scents that take us right back to somewhere else. Many of our early memories are triggered by fragrance and smell. Lots of garden plants have fragrant leaves, perfumed flowers and essential oils in their make up. Lavender is an obvious one, who can resist crumbling the flower heads between fingers to release its calming scent? But there are so many others to choose from. The heady scent of honeysuckle wafts around in early evening, tempting the long-tongued moths to visit its tubular, fragrant flowers. But there are more subtle smells like the rich scent of honey from the blooms of echinacea or the fat racemes of buddleia. And don’t forget the foliage of many herbs emit relaxing essential oils in hot weather and when you brush past them.
There are times when we just want to curl up in a ball, or read a book, or just be somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of others. Lockdown has enabled us to explore the enjoyment of our own company. Hold on to your haven and make it yours. It might be a corner of the greenhouse where the sun’s rays are accentuated and a comfy chair beckons? Or maybe it’s a café table and chairs nestled in the garden and surrounded by fragrant plants. You can screen it off with trellis or wigwams of annual climbers. Plant sweet peas or Morning glory to clothe the stems and then hide away at random. Your garden is your refuge and being in contact with the fresh air, the sunshine and even the soil are healing.
All images c. Burpee Seeds.