As we go from week to week in this strange bubble of suspense, we’re all desperately looking for those small moments of joy. Something to ease the burden on our shoulders, lift our spirits and make us smile. If only for a moment.
Like so many people, I too desperately miss not seeing my family, having a drink with a friend or being able to come and go as I please. At times it’s stifling and throws me into a state of claustrophobia. I’m not great at being told what to do, and will often revert to doing the opposite when instructed. I call it the ‘Johnny Rotten gene’, always looking for an opportunity to rebel. But if NHS workers are prepared to put themselves on the line day-in day-out, then of course I will play my part without hesitation.
Many of us have turned to our gardens. These havens of green have been a lifeline for so many, breathing calm and joy into people’s lives. I realise what a luxury it is to have a garden at this time, when so many people have no garden, allotment or outside space. Where do they go to escape? I also live in the countryside, so everyday, Mother Nature has a wealth of goodies lined up for us just outside our front door. Believe me when I say, I take none of this for granted.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to continue working, putting in place all the necessary safety precautions in my role as a gardener. Most of my clients have wanted me to continue working for them as the crisis has unfolded; I think they realised how important a role their gardens would play in this pandemic.
So, not only am I enjoying my garden, but other peoples’ too. I nurture them and encourage them to look their best for the summer months ahead. But it’s not just about the blooms, I also have the pleasure of tending to several kitchen gardens. If I was ever forced to choose between growing blooms or growing veggies, I would go for the latter.
The fact that my clients have given me free rein to create kitchen gardens full of interesting and tasty ingredients to cook and eat is thrilling. The only brief I received was from one client who asked me not to grow ‘those squeaky beans’ (French beans)!
I’m loving these warmer days just now. I arrive at my clients’ gardens each week, carrying pots and trays of young veg plants bursting with potential. Every client seems thrilled when they see me arrive, as they talk to me through their windows and patio doors. Eager for me to do the work, then eager for me to leave. Only then can they emerge from the safety of their homes to enjoy their gardens and the new additions I’ve left them. Often at the end of the day I’ll receive a text from someone thanking me, happy with the plants I’ve nurtured for them, and telling me what they hope to cook.
I find this incredibly rewarding. At a time when my emotions are behaving like a roller-coaster, this work grounds me. It has a rhythm, taking me into an almost hypnotic state. All worries cease, and for that short period of time my mind is at peace, carrying out the task at hand.
This week should have been the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a real occasion to celebrate. But for the first time since World War II, it was forced to keep its gates closed. However, both the RHS and television’s Gardeners’ World did wonders in bringing viewers their annual garden fix. From clips of previous years, experts giving online advice and gardening presenters showing us around their gardens, it helped to lift people’s spirits. And not to be left out of the celebration, we too offered a small contribution.
Look after yourselves, stay safe and keeping gardening!