The Benefits of Gardening by Maxine Morrey.
Over the past few months, if you’ve made any attempt to try and source gardening supplies, you’ll have noticed that a vast swathe of people across the land are channelling Monty Don/Alan Titchmarsh/Gertrude Jekyll like never before. Flower seeds are pretty scarce and vegetable seeds and plants have been like gold dust. People who previously didn’t know one end of a trowel from another are building raised beds and repurposing Bags For Life as planters with the zeal of Tom and Barbara Good! If the demand for tools, paint, compost and plants is anything to go by, at the end of lockdown, there are going to be some amazing garden makeovers to show for it. And, although it can be frustrating when you’re trying to source something for yourself, this new, or renewed, interest in gardening makes me happy.
Gardening is definitely therapy. There’s a reason why it features as an activity certain charities use for this reason (a fact that’s mentioned in my new book, ‘The Year of Saying No’). Many GPs are keen to try and expand gardening as part of ‘social prescribing’ for conditions like depression and anxiety and it has positive, proven results. And, of course, the only side effect is seeing something beautiful bloom, or being able to pick and eat food from right outside your door that also hasn’t been bombarded with a tonne of chemicals. There’s something so satisfying about sitting down to a dinner, the ingredients of which had until a short time ago been growing in your garden.
It’s also a great way of introducing children to a fun, healthy, outdoor activity that they can see results from. It can encourage them to expand their palette, knowing that they grew this or that fruit or vegetable, and the sense of pride that comes from that knowledge, as well as teaching them about food in general. All incredibly useful life skills.
During these times of such uncertainty, gardening has become something we can rely on. The birds in the garden around us still sing tunefully and collect bits of moss and twigs as they build their nests, disappearing into the shrubbery to the secret spot they’ve chosen. Plants are beginning to bloom, leaves unfurling and welcoming the spring. No one has told the birds or the plants that there’s a pandemic on so they just get on with things, giving us in turn a sense of normality, even if it’s just for a short while.
So, if you haven’t tried your hand at gardening yet, I’d urge you to give it a whirl. You don’t even need a garden. Plenty can be grown on balconies and windowboxes, and all sorts of containers can be repurposed to use as planters. When you’re gardening, it can be a very mindful experience. You’re concentrating on whether that plant looks better there, or here. You’re feeling the earth on your hands as you press the smooth round pea seed down a little into it before covering it over. You’re in the moment. And right now, moments like that are precious.
Maxine’s latest novel My Year of Saying No is available now in ebook, audiobook and paperback. Get your copy today by clicking on the cover below.