This week it is the Royal Horticulture Society’s (RHS) National Gardening Week, the UK’s biggest annual celebration of gardening and highlights the difference that gardens and gardening can make to people’s lives.

Given that we are in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown, our garden is the only outdoor space that is freely accessible to us at the moment so this year’s very fitting theme is ‘Keep Gardening and Grow at Home’ encouraging us all to “get gardening” to reap the benefits for both our physical and mental health.

RHS chief horticulturist, Guy Barter, said: “During these challenging and unsettling times when we are missing our family and friends, and our favourite places and activities, National Gardening Week takes on new meaning for many of us this year.”

Whilst we endure the coronavirus pandemic and maintain social distancing, we should be extra aware of the many benefits of gardening. If you have a garden or any outdoor space, however big or small, (even a balcony, rooftop plot, a patio or perhaps a decking area or window cill which can be filled with plant pots) then you have a place that you can use to help maintain your health and wellbeing.

Science has proven that the act and process of gardening or simply being in a garden surrounded by plants, fresh air and sunlight is good for both body and soul; studies have shown that having access to a garden space helps to lower heart rates and blood pressure, improve mental attentiveness, lower levels of anxiety and stress, reduce fatigue and improve a person’s overall happiness and wellbeing. Studies have also shown that interacting with plants and actively gardening can help boost the immune system and improve recovery from illness.

To combat the anxiety and cabin fever stirred up during this unsettling time, many of us are finding it therapeutic to tend to the garden, work in the soil, plant seeds and watch things grow. There is a feeling of accomplishment when you see a seed sprouting or a new leaf appears on one of your plants.

Research has shown that prolonged light to moderate exercise, such as gardening, can burn more calories than a gym session (great news for gym lovers!) in spite of feeling much easier to do (even better news for gym haters!) Gardening is a form of stealth exercise in which you are lifting, squatting, pushing, pulling and stepping without even realising it. This physical exercise, in combination with spending time outdoors being creative and productive, can improve mood and self-esteem.

A gardening ‘to do’ list can give you a sense of purpose. We recommend setting yourself an achievable goal in the garden then focus on the next thing. Completing the jobs on your list can give you a real sense of purpose and achievement and it also puts you in control of something during a time when we do not feel in control of many things. With the future weeks and months unclear, it is important to stay ‘in the moment’ and not worry too much about what may happen next. Gardening is an activity you can really get “stuck into” and focusing on this one task can take your mind off things. Sir Cary Cooper, a professor of psychology and health at the University of Manchester, says gardening takes us away from the constant and often negative feed of information about the coronavirus. “It’s good for you because you’re connecting with nature, you’re hearing birdsong, you’ve got your hands in the soil.”

Furthermore, and we like this one best – gardening gives us the opportunity to grow food! Tasty, fresh food without leaving your home. One of the healthiest things you can do is to grow food in your own garden; nothing maintains your immune system and general health and energy like fresh fruits and vegetables….oh AND you can get the kids involved too which leads us on to the next point…..

Many children are currently unable to attend school or after school clubs and activities, socialise or “play out” with friends so they are at home looking to their families more than ever for education and entertainment which is no mean feat! Drawing on our own experience from the past few weeks, it is the perfect time to introduce children to gardening such as preparing their own growing areas and sowing seeds helping to keep active minds and bodies occupied (although you may have fun and games when it comes to getting out the hosepipe to water the seeds and we wish you luck with getting them to eat ALL of the veggies you grow!)

We read an uplifting article about a mum from Oxfordshire who has turned her garden into an allotment “to keep the kids busy” whilst they are off school and all without breaking the bank during this unpredictable time. She said ‘the garden seemed like the natural thing to use because they can learn from it, but it is also fun.”

Unfortunately many garden centres and retailers are still closed, but you can still buy plants and other gardening supplies such as our Regal Topsoil online and also use the time you have at home to prepare your garden and planting pots for when you can re-stock.

To read more about how gardening can help you feel good, why not sit back in your garden chair and have a look at https://www.kettler.co.uk/benefits-of-gardening-outdoor-living/

“It’s proven that plants and gardening have a positive effect on our mental health and happiness. They uplift us, they heal us, they bring us closer to nature. They attract life and offer hope and we could all do with more of that right now” – Alan Titchmarsh, we couldn’t agree with you more!

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