Our connection to gardening by Jane Edmanson

I recently visited my local nursery as it is time to buy winter cheer like violas, cyclamen and lobelia for some pots. Everyone was distancing themselves correctly, but it was very evident to me that visiting a nursery was more than shopping, people were communicating and commenting on their gardening plans. As we all know gardeners love to share.

There seems to be a great rush of people buying plants whether it be flowering or edible vegies and herbs which is great to see. Let us hope together our new gardeners will flourish in their endeavours and are happy with any success they have. This may be the first time that 30 – 40 year olds have visited a nursery and they need to feel that it is a worthwhile and comfortable place to return to and seek advice in a personable way. Social media has its part to play but let us introduce them to real plants and real horticultural people.

It has been told to me that in Canada, gardeners have had a tough long snow covered winter and are awaiting their spring with the good news that nurseries are an essential service to the local communities and people are being encouraged to get out and garden as soon as the weather permits. Back home we need to realise that our nurseries play such a vital part in keeping people on track with a sense of purpose.

At the entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens is a fine saying “Life is sustained and enriched by plants”. How true is this? Public parks and gardens and of course private homes is where we see greenery, diversity of plantings, birdlife, all giving us such richness for our senses. Especially at this time of the COVID 19 infection when people can be so fearful, I am glad that gardening and the appreciation of plants is such a good activity and interest.

How well are we adjusting to hunkering down in these strange times? We know and practice social distancing but being part of a group is still important. The need for green spaces and a patch of soil to play in is vital.

Plants reduce stress – in a garden or walking in the bush, nature and green life has a calming effect. Tending something, whether it be a cactus, some herbs, an indoor or outdoor garden plant, they all mean that you have taken a step to be responsible for a living thing. Plus, you have a vision for your space, and by spending time with your plants, you are interacting. Some people talk to their plants, some sing, others just smile. When I crush a mint leaf its freshness gives great joy. Watching a bird visiting and doing acrobatics on my yellow Chinese Lantern (Abutilon) does me no end of good.

The benefits of pottering, digging, sowing, sitting and resting in your garden, even hugging a tree are an escape from the challenging reality in the world. Gardens and plants create a happy alternative and it’s well worth doing.  So, keep up your spirits and go gardening.