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When I nurture my plants, I nurture myself

Published: 1st Jun 2020

For a long time, I have used gardening to de-stress, even before I truly understood that’s what I was doing. I think most gardeners and horticulturalists know instinctively that when we tend to plants and inhabit nature, we are tapping into something wonderful that puts us at ease.

A small posy of violas

What we are experiencing is the ‘biophilia effect’, the affinity we have with living things. This happens because as humans we evolved with a close relationship to nature. It explains why, when the modern world can be a drain leaving us feeling tense and depleted, nature on the other hand offers restorative and comforting effects. At times when I’m anxious or trying to work out a problem I go outdoors and pretty soon I have a clear head and a calmer approach.

Combined with gardening, this innate connection creates a magical blend. So much so that therapeutic horticulture is now widely recognised and credited as an effective way of boosting our emotional and physical wellbeing. Working in the garden allows us to access a state of flow, being fully immersed and focused on the gentle task at hand, bringing about a true feeling of serenity and healing.

Knowing these things, through simple acts of gardening I find that when I nurture my plants I nurture myself. Gardening presents so many ways of doing this. Here are a few:

Sowing seeds

Seeds in the palm of a hand

A sure, steady process which holds my focus in the most soothing way. Holding the seeds in the palm of my hand and noticing their individual little features. Gently placing them onto and under the soil, giving them water and setting them in place ready for germination.

Transplanting seedlings

A seedling in a hand

One by one, carefully releasing the tiny plants’ roots from their cramped conditions to their own space. Falling into a calming rhythm whilst repeatedly lifting, moving and re-planting the seedlings, which is essential for them to thrive.

Deadheading flowers

A blue Nigella flower in the foreground of other colourful flowers

Although sounding like an ending, deadheading brings more life to me and to the garden. Directing my attention to methodically removing fading blooms simultaneously redirects energy in the plant from forming seed heads to creating new buds.

Harvesting

A bowl of colourful edible flowers salad

Whether picking fruit, vegetables, cut flowers or seeds; Moving around the garden amongst the plants and collecting the treasures nature has provided means the nourishment you gave to the garden is now coming back to you.

Resting

A red poppy with the sun shining through its petals

After the work is done, rest, breathe and absorb the surroundings. Notice the bees and other wildlife who have been working alongside you. Understand the wisdom of the cyclical seasons. Time passes and if now is a difficult time, that will pass too.