Jean Vernon offers her seasonal thoughts on ways to use the garden to survive the ongoing pandemic
The garden was a saviour to so many of us last year. It wasn’t just the place to connect with nature, for many of us it was a place to escape from the house, move away from the phone and try to zone out and away from the news.
Our gardens and greenhouses are the source of so much pleasure. A greenhouse is much more than a place to grow tomatoes. After a year of lockdown restrictions its inherent lifestyle value has come to the fore and large greenhouses are becoming a place to rest, relax and zone out of the news. Add a comfy chair and some conservatory plants and a modicum of heat and it transforms into a conservatory style escape from the madness. We all need a haven from the negative cloud that is broadcast from our smart phones, our televisions and our tablets and for me that haven is the glass-enclosed space in the middle of my garden. It’s my safe place from the madness around us and the place to start so many positive projects, and plan for a brighter future.
Room to grow
Grow your own has spread to the tinier plots and spaces, enabling anyone with a balcony, patio or terrace to dabble in the fine art of growing ingredients. Herbs and salads are the choice of many and even those stuck indoors have used their newly honed houseplant skills to grow micro-greens, windowsill herbs and seed sprouts. Instagram has exploded with images and stories of newbie gardeners sharing their newfound passions with thousands and thousands of followers. A growing ingredients dimension as a lifestyle choice is becoming the norm as our living and lifestyle spaces expand with an abundance of generating taste bytes to savour, enjoy and share.
Gardening and growing is not just on-trend but has morphed into a way of modern life. Small space growing has become a new way of growing and is the perfect pastime for pretty much everyone who wants to have a grow. It’s also ideal for those who have gardened for decades, and perfect for a corner or more of the greenhouse.
Value in beauty
The horror of the news feeds, the frustrations of lockdown and the shock of the reality going on around us has caused a shift towards appreciating nature. And that is music to my soul. Forest bathing, tree hugging or whatever you might call it, has been proven time and time again to be beneficial to our wellbeing. Mental health is fragile, connecting with the earth and feeling the sun on our faces is healing. There is huge value in the beauty of plants, gardens, flowers, blue sky, sunlight and nature and as gardeners we have it on a drip feed. We are already connected to that energy all we have to do is make more of it. By gardening, getting our hands dirty and growing plants, veg, fruit, herbs and flowers and weaving them into our daily life at every opportunity, we connect with is energy. And it’s powerful. Making time to be outside, learning how to make more of our outdoor space and appreciating that we are very privileged and blessed to have a garden or a greenhouse is so important.
Building a network
We can share our garden bounty in so many ways. We might not be able to invite anyone round, but we can share our highs on social media with images. We can grow cut flowers to brighten our homes and take a posy to someone less fortunate. We can gift plants to those with no gardening skills. We can split packets of seed into several and post the spares to others. We can grow more than we need and start a community hub to share excess, or sell for a charity or good cause. Our homegrown produce with undoubtedly regular surplus can be bottled, jammed, frozen and shared to bring light to someone in need. Fresh food is healthy for so many reasons but when shared with others it is more powerful and energy rich than ever. The trend for communities growing together is going to rise up from the ashes of COVID and gardeners can be the beacon of light at the centre, growing corridors of positivity that links the beacons and shines on everyone that is touched by the project. As spring approaches my greatest wish is that it is gardening that is contagious and that everyone can be a carrier!