This week’s guest blogger:
No matter what level of ability you have there is a gardening task that you can undertake. Being the UK’s first garden designer and BBC gardening presenter who uses a wheelchair full-time, I really want to show how gardening can help both physically and mentally. For me, I suffered with depression for many years and still have the ‘spectre of depression’ sitting on my shoulder, but by being outside, getting my hands into the soil, which releases endorphins in the brain and serotonin, I start to improve my mental health. Rubbing soil within the palm of your hand and between the fingers can help with manual dexterity. By thinking about what to sow or grow, planning pots for autumn or the spring, or creating a new border you stimulate the neurons in your brain.
Garden tools have come a long way, and there are some great ergonomic ones and tools specially designed for individuals who live with weak wrists or are unable to clutch a tool. I would always recommend trying out tools before you buy. Make sure they feel good when you use them, are lightweight and well-made.
There are two types of gardener – an active gardener who continually gardens and loves sowing, planting, planning and creating; the other is a passive gardener who enjoys sitting back and enjoying a garden and the feeling that the space creates, the scents, colours and the wellbeing benefits of being outdoors. It doesn’t matter which type you are, whether you garden alone or garden as a social activity the knack is finding a gardening task that you can do. Pace yourself and at regular intervals just sit in your garden, whether it be a patio, a balcony, a few window boxes or a rolling estate and enjoy nature at its best.
Gardening and garden design has changed my life for the better, and with TV and radio work I feel extremely lucky.