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  • Writer's pictureMartin Steel-Brown

Garden Therapy: Surviving Lockdown by Reconnecting With Nature

The trend towards green space transformation in our homes has skyrocketed these past months, as people turn to their empty indoor and outdoor spaces to ignite their green thumbs in an attempt to find peace, calm and solace in these uncertain times.

These last few months have certainly been tough for all of us. We have all had to take time out to reflect on our lives and remind ourselves of what is most important. For some, turning to their outdoor zones to improve their quality of life has been a real focus, so if you have found yourself contemplating how to transform your yard, balcony, deck or courtyard into a green retreat, then you are not alone.

For me, gardening has always been a place where I can find peace. When I get into my gardening zone I experience a form of meditation and mindfulness, where time disappears and my focus remains purely on the task at hand. It's my way of taking time out to myself to heal my mind.

So I totally get why the world is turning to gardening as a way to retreat from the chaos that COVID-19 continues to enthrall on us all. Even in our safe bubble here in New Zealand, watching the suffering of so many around the world is deeply concerning, and sometimes we just need to escape to a place where we can get our hands dirty and admire the pretty flowers.

In the days leading up to lockdown, I recall the sense of urgency as I scrambled to get as many jobs done as possible for my clients. From installing a new balcony garden to setting up a series of veggie beds so a client could start growing their own produce. It was a mad rush but it was a rewarding one, as I knew what benefit it would bring to the lives of these clients during lockdown.

But it wasn't just me that was experiencing the mad rush, it was happening all around. Garden centres in Auckland were being stripped of vegetable seedlings and packets of seeds as people made the dash to stockpile before the shops were closed. Post lockdown, demand has only continued and stock supply has been an ongoing battle for our suppliers in the horticultural industry. Even today I have several jobs on hold as I await a new shipment of pots from one of my suppliers. Add to this the pressure of the Winter, when the supply of many plants become unavailable due to the seasonal changes, and the sheer fact that many parts of the world supply chain are still not open or continue to experience delays as they catch up. Whether the demand is being driven by seasoned gardeners or amateurs planting for the first time, it is clear that people are turning to their outdoor spaces to help them navigate the difficult road ahead.

In a world of so much uncertainty, tuning into nature has never felt so rewarding. I couldn't be more thrilled to see so many people looking to connect with their gardens. In some way, it makes me feel connected to the community just knowing that others are discovering their own form of garden therapy, a therapy that I have been practicing most of my life.

So don't be afraid to pick up a shovel, plant some seeds and get amongst the dirt! You are never too old to learn, our gardens will always be waiting, your plants won't judge you and your mind just may thank you for it.

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