To quote my gardening hero Monty Don*, writing in August’s Gardeners’ World magazine:
“Working with plants and dealing with the rhythms of the seasons is powerful medicine.”
Monty, like me, is prone to depression. I suffered very badly in the years following the birth of my son, and have only this year started feeling more like myself again, whatever that means.
While medication and talking therapy were both a huge help in my recovery, I doubt I would be feeling the way I do now if I had not discovered gardening. Gardening feeds the soul. On days when I feel low, I just have to get my hands in some compost, prick out some seedlings, weed a border or do some pruning, and I feel a whole lot better. And there’s nothing more invigorating than doing some really heavy digging. The other day, when I should have been supervising toothbrushing or some other bedtime routine, my husband found me gazing out of my son’s bedroom window, which has a fabulous view of the garden. I told him I was topping up my serotonin levels.
It seems that increasingly gardening is being recognised as having a genuine therapeutic impact, and there is a push for the NHS to actually prescribe gardening for people suffering from depression and mental health problems. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get your hands dirty or deadhead some roses or even just touch a plant! (If you want a seriously sensuous experience, I recommend anemanthele lessoniana ‘Pheasant’s Tail’ grass, which is flowering spectacularly at the moment). Go on. You’ll feel better for it.
(*My children call Monty Don ‘The Grumpy Old Troll’. They point and say “Look, it’s the grumpy old troll!” whenever they see him on TV or in a magazine, and then they cackle like maniacs. They sometimes sing a song. It is called the ‘The Grumpy Old Troll song’ and it is from a kids TV show called Dora the Explorer. I cannot explain why this is.)