One positive legacy of the pandemic is that another three million people have discovered the benefits of gardening, and there have been many media reports of how people of all ages have tried it for the first time.
When the country was first locked up in March last year the weather was unseasonably hot, and those lucky enough to have gardens began to make the most of them. This has continued since, with garden centres thriving since they were re-opened in May 2020 after the first lockdown.
According to the Horticultural Trades Association, the market has shown great resilience ever since. Driven by a growing awareness and interest in DIY gardening projects, its data indicates a boom in landscaping projects as well as veg and flower growing, and this has been reflected in online sales as well as high footfall in garden centres themselves, which by nature are often mainly laid out outdoors, therefore considered safe.
Gardening is good for mental health and well-being because it helps to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety; and, physically, it is great because it encourages us to exert ourselves. It provides a focus for people to use their creativity to make something really special and challenges us to learn about plants and how to grow them successfully.
But there is so much more, and I hope our new gardeners are also learning that gardens are an invaluable haven for wildlife. One of the most soothing sights and sounds in the garden are the bees as they jostle from one flower to the next, seeking out the nectar and pollinating the flowers – an activity of immeasurable value to the planet – but bees and butterflies are severely threatened by current farming practices. A simple way to help them is for all of us to choose plants which are rich in nectar.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden – but if you have a small, sunny space such as a patio area or even a balcony, there are still ways to enjoy the benefits of gardening.
Growing vegetables in pots is a great way to start, some of which are particularly easy and provide quick results. There is nothing so satisfying as harvesting your own fresh produce and the taste is often far superior to what you get in supermarkets. Use large containers the size of a bucket or growbags, and get some canes if you want to grow beans.
The value of growing your own needs little promotion – you can be as organic as you want, and take pride in knowing exactly what you’re putting into your pots.
The possibilities in the garden are endless. Experimentation is one of the joys of gardening and if you’re picking up a trowel for the first time, welcome to years ahead of satisfying achievement.