Keep Calm and Garden On! Five therapeutic answers to self-isolation.

Many people in lock-down, quarantine or self-isolation are looking for a way to pass the time and maintain their sanity. Over the past few days, I have been cheered by my conversations with gardeners and non-gardeners alike, all stocking up, not on toilet rolls or pasta, but on seeds, plants, pots and compost. No matter what happens in the wider world, they will find sanctuary in nature in their own private oasis.

The therapeutic benefits of gardening have been well documented. Charities such as Thrive use gardening to change lives. So if you are facing some unexpected “down-time” at home, here are a few ideas to keep you happy and healthy in your home.

designer1. Plan a make-over, new feature or something to grow. From full redesign to a new flowerbed, having the time to review what works or is lacking in your green space is a blessing. Take a good look, consider what conditions, aspect or other elements have to be considered, then sit down with a cup or glass of your favourite tipple and paper and pencil. Growing seeds or plants, for food or pleasure, will increase your sense of well-being. The sense of achievement in completing a new project will be immeasurable.

robin-648118_19202. Welcome wildlife. Encouraging a little more of the ecosystem to share your space will benefit both your plants and your mental health. Offering food and water for birds will provide hours of free entertainment through the window, no matter what the weather. In return, they will keep the pests at bay. Planting flowers for bees and other insects will provide essential pollination for many plants as well as a pretty outlook for you. Making a bug box, bee hotel or putting up nest boxes will mean your house is home for many new friends!

frog-540812_19203. Introduce a water feature. This may range from birdbath or trickling fountain to designer rill and waterfall! It doesn’t have to be complicated but will attract wildlife to bathe and drink. If your choice includes movement, the tinkling sound will soothe your nerves and distract your ears from unwelcome noise.

store-4156934_12804. Shop online or by telephone. If you are missing your fix of retail therapy there is plenty of opportunities to shop online. Please support your local, suppliers first wherever possible though. Many of these smaller businesses may struggle to retain their staff from your own community and are offering click and collect or telephone ordering for delivery if you are unable to visit in person.

window-sill-3565758_19205. Develop a houseplant collection. These are increasingly popular and fashionable at the moment and can improve the air quality indoors and lift your spirits as well as being an attractive addition to your interior design. As with outdoor plants, there is a wide choice of pots and containers to choose from and ornamental pebbles to complete the look.

Even if you do not consider yourself a gardener, planting up a few containers or window boxes gives back that sense of control and lifts the spirits. Once you start you may find this simple pleasure leads to a desire to know more. Books and websites abound to tell you more about whatever plant or project takes your fancy. Who knows, this may be the start of something beautiful – I look forward to hearing of your discoveries and triumphs!


For garden planning help and advice, for any size, style or budget, call Hilary on 07772 161748, email or check out my Facebook page:
(North Down and Belfast areas)

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