Alison Jordan shares her joy.
With the days lengthening and the weather hopefully getting milder, gardeners are now turning to their seed catalogues and are beginning to plan what they will grow and where, in their gardens.
In these very challenging times gardens and outdoor spaces in general are an essential way to get fresh air, exercise and sunshine. In studies it has been proved that gardening and being outdoors benefits people both physically and mentally. Even if you only have a balcony or very small space something can be grown. Weeding, sowing and general maintenance takes ones’ mind off other things, at the same time giving exercise and vital vitamins.
Last spring and summer it was a line of communication with others living in our street. We have small front gardens and, as our road is quite narrow we were able to talk to each other (albeit quite loudly!) without leaving the house! That way we could keep up with the neighbours and help if needed.
Keeping in contact with our far-flung family was also essential and one way we did it was through our gardens. My daughter sent me a packet of tomato seeds, some I sent to my brother-in-law in Devon and when I sowed them every one came up! This was far more than I could use even though I have a greenhouse and a bit of garden. The same was true for a packet of Rudbeckia flowers that I had free with Gardeners’ World magazine.
When the plants were big enough I potted them on and put them outside on the wall for others in the road to take for free, or give a donation towards the NHS charity. I ended up with £40 to put in the bank. It also, later on in the summer, was a topic of conversation in the road and on Wattsapp, as to how well the plants were doing and how many tomatoes they had picked. Mine were so prolific that I managed to freeze enough to make chutney in the autumn as well as giving away some. Many people have started to grow more vegetables than before and it is a reminder of the way people grew their own veg during WW2. Nothing tastes as good as fruit and veg from your own garden especially freshly podded peas.
When walking around the local area and up to Broadstone for shopping, it is lovely to see into other people’s gardens and get some ideas as to planting and landscaping, with the occasional conversation thrown in for good measure, also just to meet others in passing and exchange a friendly greeting.
Further afield, though not much, Bob and I spent several days walking around Kingston Lacey gardens. The first time we went it was as though we were the only ones there as everyone was very spread out. It was so peaceful you could hear all the birds and when we sat down to eat our picnic lunch a robin came very close for a few crumbs we gave it. The Acer trees were a picture of every colour from deep red to pale yellow and there were many different leaf shapes. It is amazing what you can see when you stop and look more closely at the variety Nature has to offer us. Sadly the formal beds were not planted out as usual because most of the gardeners were at home. We spoke to the one gardener we saw and he said that he was the only full time gardener retained to do basic maintenance around the gardens.
Looking to the future, with many of us having had our vaccination, we can hope to get out a bit more and enjoy the walks and visit more gardens, as well as preparing our own plots for the seasons to come.
Happy gardening to all.