OK, I admit it. I desperately need to get my hands in the soil. I missed gardening when I lived in London in the noughties and only realised when I suffered from burnout and functional neurological disorder. Then I moved to Essex and immersed myself in rural life, enjoying reconnecting with the natural world. I have transformed our front and back garden lawns by adding flower beds. They comfort and cocoon me and attract a whole array of birds and insects.
During the pandemic, like everyone else, we pounded local footpaths and spent as many hours as we could in the garden. It was heaven in that respect. Not that I would repeat the wider experience in a hurry.
Since then, the hours spent outside in nature have eroded bit by bit like the Norfolk cliffs. Not completely; I would never let that happen. But enough for me to notice and to want to rectify it. I don’t mind so much in the winter, I’m content to hibernate for a bit and retreat inside.
Once Spring is sprung, I get itchy. I want, or need, to be in the garden. It’s a physical and mental desire. I enjoy being more active, and it’s good for my mental health. It quietens any negative chatter. This year the weather has not been helpful. We had a wet March, and April has been a mixed bag. I’ve only spent one weekend this year in the garden, weeding and creating two new flower beds. It’s just not enough!
So, here is my job list for the rest of April, May and June:
- The front garden needs weeding
- I need a couple more plants for my barrel pond
- There are two pots to fill in a shady spot in the front garden
- I need some new pots to create a new grouped display on our patio – herbs, tropical, or something else. Not sure!
- I have a square raised bed that has been a veg garden and a cut flower garden in the past, neither with much success. I need a new plan for this space, and it might have to be radical. The conifer next door just fills any soil with roots and steals the water
- Level some ground next to the fence between two shrubs and add a cocoon chair as a reading spot
- Sow some seeds and watch them grow…
- Build a log shelter with a worktop on top to use as a potting bench
That should keep me busy! By sharing my intention to garden with you, I feel it is more likely to come true. I feel more accountable. What are you hoping to do in your garden or outside space this year? I’d love to know…
This blog is written by Hannah Powell, book blogger, author and director of two garden centres. Her award-winning memoir, The Cactus Surgeon, compares her days in the concrete of London, leading to burnout, with her nature-rich upbringing in rural Essex. It’s a nature and health memoir full of mindful moments.