My love for gardening developed in my early years, I was given a patch at the bottom of the garden. I started growing a variety of colourful bedding plants,that was it I was hooked.It took me over a decade of working in high street retail to realise I needed to re-plant myself in a new bed with new soil and a brighter aspect to enable me to flourish.I found a position in a garden centre and worked my way up to managing the outdoor area.
Unconsciously I knew that being outdoors and handling plants helped my mood and fitness and wanted to share this with the customers. When as a company we started a relationship with Thrive a charity using gardening to change lives, I requested to become involved and was given the role as the Thrive Ambassador.I started attending their courses which fired my passion to learn more about the positive effects that plants have on our health and well-being. I was asked by Thrive if I would like to do their Award in social and therapeutic horticulture which I completed in 2018.I was also asked to put together several presentations for inhouse training with the garden centre staff and ideas on how to promote the benefits to our customers by using visual displays.
When I made my career change almost 25 years ago it made me think we have something in common with plants,we need to be in the right position to really thrive,I started to relay this to the customers and the idea that gardening is a 2- way relationship, if we nurture the plants and understand their needs they will in turn nurture us.
There are many benefits when we spend time in a garden, firstly it connects us to nature and the benefits of growing things that attract pollinating insects,we can also encourage wildlife into the garden to help keep down pests reducing use of chemicals.Gardening also has physical benefits like burning off calories, controlling our blood pressure which can lower the chances of developing health conditions. Being outdoors promotes our bodies to make vitamin D which helps the formation of healthy bones and immune system,along with that there are also proven psychological benefits, It’s a great way to relieve stress and may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
People coping with isolation may find relief by joining a community garden or allotment. A garden is a great place to be social,also a perfect place to practice mindfulness, promotes all of our senses and a great place to teach children to grow their own food and the benefits of healthy eating.
I now work as an outreach therapist with people in their own gardens,together we create a program to help the client have a positive connection with their garden. This can sometimes mean adapting it and teach new ways to garden due to a physical health condition and helping people regain motivation to plan for the future and have a sense of purpose.