2020 has been a strange year for all of us whatever our circumstances and for many, a year with tragedy – my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones. 2021 is here and I envision it being the roots that are as Rumi said rioting under the ground….”Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet but the roots are down there riotous” Rumi. I insist on believing things will be better in 2021 even though currently Covid has still got the upper hand. But gradually as the number of people vaccinated spreads we will hopefully reach a point where the vaccination is spreading faster than the virus! But for now we do need to think of the tremendous pressure the frontline workers are under as they deal with levels of Covid as high or higher than at its previous peak and keep them in our thoughts.
Nature can as always provide an antidote to some of the negativity that our current world provides for us. Now is the time of year to really pay attention – look closely at what appears to be soil and you may just see little tiny green shoots peeping through ready to grow into snowdrops or crocuses. We have some green shoots poking their heads above the snow in pots (picture below) but in some warmer places you may be lucky enough to have snowdrops up already. Crazily it seems in the context of our snow covered garden I will turn on my heated propagator and begin planting tomatoes in the next couple of weeks to ensure an early crop and chillies and aubergines will follow soon after. I have managed to keep basil, chives, chillies, lettuce and some violas growing on a windowsill in a ‘smart garden’ which has certainly brightened my winter. (And the room since their lights are on 16 hours a day) The manufacturers have certainly got it right with the set up, the lighting and the plant pods and even that little bit of indoor garden adds to my joy of growing food albeit just herbs, greens and chillies in the winter. Forced narcissi are now blooming beautifully and their scent filling the room, again a winter garden feel. Sweet peas planted in October have already bushed out and are now dormant, waiting for some spring warmth to take off again but will be great strong early flowering specimens. I have planted a whole variety but they all have one thing in common; however different they may look they are full of scent. I adore sweet peas and fill the house with them for the many weeks they are in flower – they represent a quintessentially English garden to me and also make me think of my beloved Mum who always grew them too. My Dad who is happily still alive and thriving at the age of nearly 84 (going on 70) shares my love of them, another reason they are so special to me. But who can’t love sweet peas anyway – easy to grow, prolific, beautiful, smell gorgeous and the more you pick them the more they grow! And they attract insects including bees enhancing wildlife in the garden a really important consideration for me with all our planting. It is a misconception that a wildlife garden has to be a wild looking garden; it’s simply about thinking about the plants that you choose carefully so that they fulfil your wish for a cottage or formal garden but attract wildlife as well. The formal part of our garden is filled with plants that are good for wildlife and we leave seed-heads on in autumn on many of them for the birds but also because they actually look good. Hydrangea Annabelle still has its flower heads on, now brown (well white with snow at the moment actually) and they look fabulous. They will be cut back in spring to ensure good growth and big blooms this year but there have been extra months of enjoyment from them by not pruning in autumn. Winter need not be a season without purpose or enjoyment for the garden. Both are available in abundance including sowing and growing, two of my favourite activities in life!
At this time of year with my medical problems and being wheelchair dependent getting out in the garden is not really possible usually – however we have installed an electronically controlled awning, heating, lights and a big table that will seat 12 people will arrive soon, to allow us to run events for nurturenature on our decking which overlooks the garden and will mean that even if it’s raining we can have the workshops outside making the most of the health benefits of nature whatever the weather. The decking and heating is actually usable even now with this set up though I ice skated in my wheelchair yesterday getting back up the ramp to the house after sitting out on the decking to enjoy the soothing effects of the garden for a while. Despite the fright it gave me it was worth it to enjoy the snow covered garden looking beautiful and spot blue tits and our very own resident robin. We are planning events for this year believing they will be possible by May. If you read this and live locally, or even if you don’t live locally, and have ideas for events that you think would optimise the healing benefits of the garden please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org Even after there is much better control of covid and we return to some semblance of normality or what will pass as normality there will continue to be much strangeness and many people needing the nurturing that nature provides. Emerging from extended periods of shielding will be stressful and access to a quiet serene space to heal psychologically will be helpful for many. As well as the psychological healing needed in the recovery from the covid world there will also be a physical need for many with increasing recognition of long covid, the phenomenon where people are taking months to recover from covid and are left feeling drained and exhausted often with other specific symptoms such as shortness of breath as well. And of course we mustn’t forget all those people who the garden was designed for in the pre-covid world who still have the need for the healing powers, both psychological and physical, of nature and activities designed to enhance its benefits. We have been working on the garden over the last year while it has not been able to be opened and it will have improved accessibility and new planting. We can’t wait to welcome people in and support the local community. We are growing on plants for the nursery to raise money to re-invest in events and further development of the garden and will continue to offer the click and collect service we ran successfully during 2020 as well as hopefully being able to have face to face plant sale days. We are going to set up a donate button on our Facebook page and as previously requested anyone anywhere in the country who can shop at the co-op please become a member and choose us as your cause – it really will make a difference to the money we raise during the next 9 months from being a chosen cause for the co-op community fund. You can access us as a local cause by clicking on https://membership.coop.co.uk/causes/54759 and can also find out how to be a member there – its very easy. Thank you so much to everyone who has or is supporting us. We really want to make as much of a difference to the local community as possible.
Being in a garden benefits not just the body and the mind but also the soul….. “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” Alfred Austin. My soul sings when I am in the nurturenature garden – I would like as many people to share this feeling as possible. We will keep working towards this.
#nurturenture #disabledgardening #wildlifegardening