I’ve just returned from my first ever visit to the Chelsea Flower Show 2018 with my dear Mum. It’s something I have wanted to do for many years and the show didn’t disappoint! So much so I felt compelled to write this post about the magic of gardening and the healing power of plants, as soon as I arrived home.
The Chelsea Flower Show this year focused on health and well being, particularly mental health. I won’t delve into the intricacies of the show. Instead, I want to share how my experience of the healing power of plants and how gardening has helped calm my mind and improved my mental health. (If you’d told me I’d be writing this post 20 years ago I probably would have laughed and thought ‘how middle-aged!’. )
The Healing Power of Plants
I fear we are losing touch with our the need to be in nature, to celebrate the seasons, notice the details of nature’s cycles. It was about 10 years ago I started to notice the calm spirit of gardeners. My mum has been a keen gardener for years. To be honest, though, I couldn’t really understand it. I wanted to share her passion but couldn’t see how this gardening thing was so satisfying? Yet I envied hers and others ‘gardeners calm’ as I like to call it. Monty Don, who has suffered his own mental distresses, is the epitome of calm. I watched his series Around the World in 80 Gardens with deep fascination and a slight sense of envy.
However, it’s literally only in the last couple of years that I have caught the gardening bug. I felt compelled to be in the garden, outside, away from the computer. To tend and tidy. To notice the changes that the seasons bring.
In the process, I’ve discovered my own personal passion for growing seeds! Every day I look forward to seeing if something has happened: earth, water and warm – the chemistry that makes the seeds magically burst into life. Coming down every morning to make tea and to see if the delicate shoots have burst through the soil. The next day, coming to see if the shoots have grown a little stronger. It’s the ultimate test of patience and so utterly rewarding.
Gardening is Optimism
You are always thinking of the future. Planning, looking forward. You have to be aware of the seasons, the weather. Notice the insects, other wildlife. Battle the weeds. But always with optimism. When the bees and butterflies start arriving, I feel a sense of joy. As if I’m making a small but real difference to my environment and ecosystem. I’m encouraging life. All part of something bigger than me. My problems, worries and anxieties seem so small in comparison.
I’m at the will of nature and have to work with her to make my small patch of this world a little better for my family, the birds, bees, worms, beetles and of course myself, that co-exist and inhabit this small piece of land, my home, with me.
Money, work, social media anxiety, jealousy, envy. It all simply goes, POOF! In a puff of air, I’m not worried about any of that stuff. In the evening, I look forward to walking around the garden and noticing the subtle differences that come every day. It’s magical. It’s mindfulness at its best and it is something we can all do.
Even if you live in a small flat and only have a window box, you can experience this sense of satisfaction. Nurturing the plants, watching them develop, caring for them, noticing how they react to their environment, noticing the miracle of nature. I can honestly say I feel at complete at ease with the earth in these moments.
Nobody could have made me feel this way about plants and gardening a few years ago. I could see it in keen gardeners but I just couldn’t grasp it for myself. Only recently has this happened. And yes, it’s come with age for me.
Gardening as Mindfulness & Meditation
I’m a novice gardener. Every day is a school day and there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to identify a variety of plant and really sound like you know what you’re talking about! Or watching a plant bloom that you have cared for from a seed. Eating the herbs, vegetables and fruit you have grown in your garden. If meditation isn’t your thing, the very deliberate act of gardening, next to creative work, is the next best thing.
I won’t urge you to try it. It’s something that will touch you when you’re ready to receive it. That’s how the magic of plants and gardening came to me. And that’s why I found magic at the Chelsea Flower Show today. I finally understood.
Have an inspired day
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