31 days to Garden yourself Happy

I am absolutely not one for making New Year’s Resolutions, mainly because I never keep them but this is more a set of guidelines to help keep yourself happy through Gardening. It’s a powerful tool and well-known to have healing powers.

1 Spend 10 minutes outside every day - either walking to work, stepping out of the home office at lunchtime, having a coffee on the balcony or walking through the garden in the morning or after work in the evening

2 Make your home green this could be using houseplants or even just pictures of nature

3 Take a seasonal shopping trip to the Garden centre or local plant nursery get inspired by their displays of seasonal plants

4 Visit a garden every season take a notebook and make notes of plants you like, take photographs of combinations of plants, talk to the gardeners about things you like, ask questions, they are very knowledgeable!

5 Use your sensestake time to smell the roses, touch the velvety leaves of lambs ear plants, listen to the birdsong, look up, down and around you, pick fresh herbs and salad leaves

6 Create vistas from your windowseven on the dullest day you should be able to look out of your windows and see something beautiful, be it plants, a simple pot or sculpture, a specimen tree or shrub

7 Hide tricky areas we all have them - bins, sheds, garages, next doors windows –there are lots of cunning ways to hide problems using plants and structures

8 Grow what you loveif you inherit a garden and don’t like some of the plants, take them out and give them to someone who does! Only grow things you love to look at or enjoy eating.

9 Pick from your gardenbe it flowers, things to eat or decoration for the home, there’s nothing like harvesting your nurtured plants

10 Take time out to breathemake somewhere to sit and look at the garden, a simple seat is enough to admire our handiwork, find a sense of peace

11 Plant bulbs look to the future; planting a bulb gives you something to look forward to seeing later in the year

12 Grow fruit big or small there is absolutely nothing like picking fruit from the plant and eating it with zero travel miles

13 Talk to your neighbourswhether these are across the field or across the fence, getting to know your neighbours opens many doors, from friendship to trading partner; you can share plants, seeds and time

14 Have at least one houseplantevery home should have at least one houseplant, pick one you love and learn how to care for it, nurture it

15 Make your garden high or low maintenance decide how much time and expertise you have and create your garden space to be manageable for you

16 Write lists, tick things off having a simple list of garden tasks and being able to tick them off once you’ve done them gives an incredible amount of satisfaction

17 Walk amongst trees they are our life-blood, and they’re everywhere so take a walk in woods, along a leafy street, through a park and admire their shape, form and colour

18 Bring nature’s treasures into the home display found treasures like shapely twigs, pine cones, leaves, pretty stones in the home to admire but remember to give them back to nature afterwards

19 Make your home festive all year round we know that homes look wonderful adorned with greenery at Christmas but why not make this a seasonal task – make wreaths from seasonal plants, pot up small plants for the table, prune small branches from flowering shrubs to have in vases

20 Make friends with the wildlifefeed the birds, the hedgehogs, the foxes; think of insects as friends not foes – many slugs will hoover up the detritus instead of eating your plants, and the thrushes will need snails to munch; ladybirds and ants need to eat aphids and they are all a part of the circle of nature

The Urban Pollinator Garden, designed by Caitlin McLaughlin, Hampton Court 2019

21 Get an allotment if you don’t have a garden these are the most wonderful of spaces; you can share experiences with your gardening neighbours, make lifelong friends, feel part of the community

22 Make compostthere is something wonderfully magical about making your own compost; arousing childhood memories of mixing potions with soil and petals; it’s not complicated, it’s what Mother Nature does every day of her life, it’s part of the natural cycle of life

23 Get up close and personal with your plantsthey are beautiful creations, full of tiny strokes of colour and shade, thick and glossy or translucent like fairy wings; leafs and petals are the most perfect of forms so take time to truly admire their details

24 Keep them closein the autumn and winter months place plants where you can see them easily from the house, put pots on a table near the door or window

25 Sweep the decks the simple task of sweeping the steps, the deck, the patio will not only keep you fit but everything looks better against a clear surface, think of it like vacuuming the carpet or wiping the worktops - how much better the house looks and feels when the surfaces are clear

26 Mow lawns and trim the edgesif you do nothing else in the garden, keep lawns trimmed and edges clipped, this make the borders look 100% tidier. Even if you want a more wildlife friendly garden and are keeping your grass longer with wildflowers, keeping the edges neat will give definition to the spaces

27 Learn to prune your trees and shrubsit’s not as scary as you think, look up how to prune the things in your garden. You can look then on up on the Internet or use the RHS online guides videos and books to teach you how to prune. This could be gentle trim to stop branches getting in the way, or tacking overgrown varieties. It’s harder than you think to kill a well-established plant; you just need to learn some simple rules

28 Take a coursethere are now so many amazing courses to help you learn about your plants and how to garden. Many gardeners and Garden Consultants will offer Garden Coaching, where they garden alongside you, teaching you about your garden and your plants. Gardens open to the public often run day courses or give talks on specific tasks

29 Subscribe to a Garden magazinethere are lots out there, from expert to beginner level; you could even share a subscription with neighbours or your allotment, getting seasonal advice on what to do in the garden and some great plant offers too

30 Divide and share plantsthe most wonderful thing about gardening is how easy it is to share. Most perennials will naturally divide themselves as they get older, either dying off in the centre as the older growth dies, or sending off new shoots to create new plants. You can help them along by digging up rooted shoots or diving perennials and getting rid of the old growth. Learn to divide the plant into smaller pieces, replanting some and potting up others to give away to friends, family and neighbours - the joy of giving!

31 Give yourself a pat on the back! if you do even some of these things then you can congratulate yourself and call yourself a Gardener. It’s a magical and ancient pastime that will reward you for life, both physically and mentally. 


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