Some of Britain’s top gardeners and gardening enthusiasts have underlined the importance of gardening, saying spending more time in the soil is extremely beneficial to our health and wellbeing.
Monty Don, Chris Beardshaw, international florist Jonathan Moseley and radio DJ Jo Whiley – just some of the special guests that will be appearing at RHS Malvern Spring Festival from May this year (9-12)- have commented on how gardening helped to overcome challenges in their lives.
RHS Malvern Spring Festival, sponsored by Great Little Breaks, is seen by many as the official start of spring and home to inspirational RHS Gold Medal winning show gardens, top-quality specialist plant and floral exhibitors in the beautiful Floral Marquee and expert advice from some of the UK’s top gardening and food heroes.
BBC Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley explained how her garden was a solace during the ‘relentless abuse’ that she received last year from a faction of Radio 2 listeners.
“I certainly did some manic weeding,” she laughs. “It’s fair to say some borders were butchered. But in all seriousness the garden did help – it was a place to retreat when it got too much, particularly on a tough day. I loved the stillness of the garden; the birdsong; the gentle sounds of nature were a huge help.”
National treasure of the gardening world, Monty Don, has spoken at length about his own battles with depression. With a strong focus on mental health and wellbeing at RHS Malvern Spring Festival this year, Monty underlines the importance of our connection to the land.
“Connection to the land is very, very important. It goes back to the seasons and an understanding of how things change and recover,” he commented.
“One of the great features of depression is when you become immune to the evidence of wellbeing around you; it could be a lovely day or you hear a beautiful piece of music but it’s not reaching you. That’s always a bad sign. I think conversely a good sign is that you can be in a dark grey space and you see a little primrose or violet and realise it’s beautiful and alive, or you hear some birdsong which uplifts you. The point is that these all feed in and you react and something happens which enriches you.”
For garden designer, broadcaster and plantsman Chris Beardshaw, the garden is a place that makes him “feel well”.
“That’s why I was interested in exploring when I was a kid,” he explains. “I remember the feeling of coming home from school, chucking my bag into the house, sometimes getting changed but more often not and heading out to climb trees, fall into the stream, grub around hedgerows, that kind of thing. I was most in touch when I was outside. The worst place for me is, bizarrely, sitting in an office.”
You don’t even have to have a garden at all, to feel the benefits of horticulture for wellbeing – without breaking the bank, explains floral designer Jonathan Moseley.
“With wellbeing at the top of the agenda and people wanting to re-engage with nature, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Add into the fact that so many young people don’t believe they will ever own a garden and it’s clear to see why cut flowers are attracting more and more interest,” he said.
“At this time of year so many spring flowers are really inexpensive. For under £4 you can get some nice tulips, hyacinths or daffodils and all I’ll do is add in some berried tree-ivy, pussy willow and some birch branches and chuck that in a jug or a vase.”