Mental Health Awareness Week comes around every year from the 10th to the 16th of May. This years theme is ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’, while reconnecting with nature. We can think of no better way to express this than with gardening. Over the course of global events we have seen an increase of people getting into gardening as it has become a form of therapy and escapism. Here are some reasons we think gardening has helped us through lockdown.
In the Green
There is evidence to suggest that spending time in a green environment helps us reduce stress, improve our mood and our overall wellbeing. With gardening there is no better place to start than in the garden. Whether you have just a small patch of land, or own an allotment, gardening is easier than ever. There are a plethora of plants that even the most novice of gardeners can start with. From beginner level Hollyhocks, to low maintenance Asters, gardening is truly for everyone. Social media also saw a rise in gardeners as the community continues to grow as more people pick up this amazing hobby.
Mental Health Journal reported that gardening is great at aiding those who suffer with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Through gardening they were able to see a reduction in stress and improved mood. But it’s not just those afflicted who think so too. Many gardeners feel a real sense of achievement as retrieving your very first harvest or watching flowers bloom is a great accomplishment. What makes gardening such a rewarding hobby is that all your hard work can be counted for. After months of planting, watering, pest removal and constant hard work, there is nothing better than seeing what you have put so much work into first sprout.
Aforementioned, gardening is not just helpful to those with mental health problems. Gardening has several different opportunities to help many more people from those with life-long or long-term physical health needs. But also those recovering from illness and accidents. Since the start of the year we here at J Parkers have been working closely with Manchester Mind to help bring their vision of a sensory garden to life.
“Shared sensory experience is one of the nicest things about our project. Delight at hands in mud, the sound of chirruping birds and the glorious whiff of new tomatoes are just a few examples of the way the garden can stimulate the senses and engage people to improve mental wellbeing. We wanted to enhance this and explore it further.”
Through our partnership we intend to create an experience that can be felt all over Manchester and support those in need. Seeing more and more people enjoy the power of gardening has been just one of the benefits for us.
Mental health is an incredibly important subject that we take seriously. From growing pretty flowers that brighten your day. To harvesting fresh produce and focusing on your health. Gardening has something for everyone and we really enjoy reading all of your comments telling us how much it has helped during the past year.
How have you reconnected with nature this Mental Health Awareness week?
The question of how to cross pollinate is a common one. But before learning how to, it’s best to learn what it is. Cross-pollination is not only exclusive to bees! It is a process of transferring pollen from the anther of one flower to the stigma of another flower. Cross-pollination can be used intentionally to create unique varieties of plants and vegetables.
What is cross-pollination
When one plant pollinates another variety, the two plants genetics combine to create a new variety. This new variety shares characteristics from both plants. A popular cross-pollination is for tomatoes, to create new and better varieties. This is intentional cross-pollination but it doesn’t always happen this way. In some instances, external forces play a hand in cross-pollination, like the wind or bees, carry pollen from one variety to another.
Common cross-pollinate misconceptions
Unlike flowers, not all plants can cross-pollinate easily. Cross-pollination within vegetables is less about the pollen, and has more to do with the species. For example, a cucumber could not cross-pollinate with a tomato as they are not the same species. But, it can happen between a broccoli and cauliflower.
Secondly, that the current harvest has been affected. This isn’t possible. Cross-pollination only affects the fruit of any seeds planted from that fruit. If think your harvest looks odd then it might be worth exploring other options such as pests and diseases before jumping to conclusions.
Cross-pollination can be controlled, it just requires some extra steps. The easiest method is making sure to only grow one species in the garden as cross-pollination is unlikely to happen. If you want to grow multiple varieties you should determine if the plant you are growing is self pollinated or wind and insect pollinated. You can eliminate the chance of cross-pollination by planting different varieties of the same species at least 3m apart.
Whether is it intentional or not, cross-pollination isn’t always a bad thing. Your plants remain unaffected and you might even create a new variety that grows better and stronger than ever.
Next weekend starts the lifting of several restrictions that have been put place since the start of the year. With outdoor social mixing once again allowed, it is high time to show off that garden you’ve put so much work into! After months of grafting, weeding and watering. Spending as much time as you could outside, let’s make the garden the centre of attention!
Tidying up your garden
Time to rummage through the back of your garden shed and find the lawn mower, it’s finally time to shine! Whether it’s a simple back and forth or you’re an expert at mowing lawn stripes, this is undoubtedly the first step to tidying up your garden. Much like your grass, now is a great time to ensure your patio or decking are up to scratch and ready to display summer essentials such as barbecue’s, furniture, or maybe even more potted plants. The patio is your oyster.
With outdoor meetings now on everybody’s agenda seating is essential. It doesn’t have to be fancy seating or bespoke furniture. There are many ways to turn your garden into a social space. Just ensure you have a space large enough to seat the six people of your choice. Furniture doesn’t always have to be an option, a picnic blanket spread on the floor. Even camping chairs can get the job done. So long as you have a space that can accommodate your chosen group all you have to do is provide the entertainment.
Clear the clutter
You did the hard part of transforming your garden. Now you’re stuck with the remains. If there is still any clutter left over its high time to get rid of it. Clean out any garages, greenhouses or sheds while you still have the free time. The best way to get rid of garden waste is your local recycling centre or tip. A great suggestion is labelling boxes to ensure they go to the right waste bin. If you run out of time or simply can’t find a place suitable, store the waste somewhere it can’t be easily accessed or seen.
Lockdown has been such an incredibly hard time for everyone. The gardening industry has seen a massive boost since the start of lockdown with more people picking up the hobby. We at J Parker’s have been so happy to provide quality bulbs to everyone – old and new customers. It doesn’t matter if you are a gardening expert or novice, you should be proud of the garden you’ve created. As Summer comes closer it is time to let your garden loose. Show off your new hanging baskets, bedding plants or potted tubers and enjoy yourself!
Need some more garden tips? Check out these blogs:
Like the word natural, the word organic gets tossed around a lot. But what does it mean to practise organic gardening? Organic gardening is essentially gardening without using synthetic products like fertilizers and pesticides. It involves the use of only natural products to grow plants in your garden.
The benefits of organic gardening
Organic gardening comes with many benefits. Organic gardens cultivate an ecosystem that involves feeding the soil, encouraging wildlife, and getting creative with nature’s pest and disease controls. It’s cheap, it’s practical – and it’s good for plants, people and communities. Plus, growing organic fruit and vegetables is the best way to be sure that you’re supplying the purest, highest-quality foods to your family.
How to start an organic garden
Good soil is key to organic growing. Fertile soil provides the home for millions of bacteria, which are essential for healthy plant growth. Soil also holds air and water which gives it a good structure (not compacted or waterlogged) and good texture (not too heavy or light). This allows plants to put down roots, to absorb water and nutrients, and encourage strong growth.
Organic gardeners also withhold from using pesticides and use natural bug control methods. Many organic growers, and even some who are not, plant their crops in certain combinations in order to repel pests.
Throughout the year, organic gardeners collect their household waste and yard clippings to use in a compost bin. Compost bins are a cheap and easy way to create your own natural compost. This bin is turned regularly in order to facilitate decomposition. Early in the growing season, the organic gardener will work the compost into the garden plot, thus enriching the soil with the natural ingredients needed for a rich growing bed.
Do you find watering the summer garden time consuming? With British summers getting hotter and drier, drought tolerant plants are the answer to growing a beautiful garden that can withstand the summer heat.
What are drought resistant plants?
Drought tolerant plants are specific varieties that are suitable for planting in dry conditions. They are perfect for planting in bright, sunny spots in the garden. Many drought tolerant plants have silver or grey-green leaves, their light leaf colour reflecting the harsh rays of the sun. Some have a coating of fine hairs on their leaves or stems, helping to trap moisture around the plant tissues.
Check out our favourite drought tolerant plants that will best adapt to the prolonged dry season.
Growing a sensory garden is simple way to create a space that’s not only amazing to look at, but great for mental well being. In our blog post, we’ll share what a sensory garden is and which plants we recommend to start off your very own sensory garden.
What is a sensory garden?
Sensory gardens should be filled with plants that activate all our senses; touch, smell, sound, sight and taste. To create a sensory space, focus on:
Scents that fill the air: Daphne, Philadelphus and Honeysuckle
Plants you can smellup close: Hyacinths and Muscari
Plants that make sound in the wind:Grasses and Bamboo
Plants that add texture: Eremurus, Gypsophila and Wisteria
Plants you can taste: Edible aromatic plants like Wild Garlic
Our Sensory Garden Starter Pack:
We’ve selected our special sensory favourites from our online range to start off your sensory garden journey.
Easy to grow and versatile spring plants. Enjoy the lovely fragrance of these pale blue, pea-like flowers in patio pots or around trees and shrubs.
Small urban gardens can be overlooked by other houses, which means privacy can be rare. To prevent neighbours being able to see into your garden or to just create your own private sanctuary of peace, check out our top tips for how to achieve privacy in a small urban space.
1. Block Sight Lines
An arbour, pergola or gazebo are all easy ways of increasing privacy if you’re overlooked by upper windows. Cover any of these structures with beautiful trailing plants to truly create your own natural private space. Another tip is to plant small trees near your terrace; they will give you more privacy than a taller tree further away.
2. Bushy Pot Plants
Growing bushy potted plants gives you the cover you need, and they’re mobile so you can move them around whenever you like. It’s an easy way to improve privacy that also adds a good dose of foliage to your outdoor space. Grab plants that have a good width spread to grow a private wall of foliage.
3. Beautiful Bamboo
Growing Bamboo in pots is a great way to leave your privacy concerns behind. These plants provide a well-concealed look as well as the lush greenery.
4. Cover up with Climbers
If you want to cover your garden fences or railings in a balcony or rooftop, climbing plants are a great option. Ivy plants would be a top choice, as they’re fast growing and evergreen; the perfect all-year-round cover.
5. Ornamental Grasses
Grasses can be used so easily to create internal screens or hedges that flower beautifully, move in the slightest breeze, and need little care during the summer months. Their fast growth rate makes ornamental grasses ideal for privacy hedges because new plants can rapidly fill in any gaps.
Usually held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has gone digital this year! From virtual garden tours from RHS judges and top garden designers to gardening experts sharing planting tips and tricks, there has been plenty to enjoy from this year’s show.
We’ve rounded up our favourite Chelsea-approved gardening tips, so that you can create your own prize-winning garden at home.
1. Working with Small Spaces
With many of us stuck at home at the moment and with many people living in urban spaces, you can still enjoy a bounty of plants, no matter the size. Create new levels with hanging plants, experiment with mobile potted plants and elevate plants with shelving or ladders.
2. Create a Chelsea Inspired Bouquet
Nikki Tibbles, founder of British florists Wild at Heart, gave us a crafty tutorial on how to create our very own Chelsea-inspired bouquets with flowers from our garden. Combine the delicately coloured flowers of pale Peonies, pastel Delphiniums and Clematis flowers to create your own award -winning vase displays and bouquets.
3. Healing Gardens
Garden designer Robert Myers shared his top tips for designing a healing garden. Now more than ever, our gardens are a haven to bring calm to our lives and help with our mental/physical well being. Restore calm with plenty of textured, multi-layered natural greenery, and add a sensory experience with scented plants around seating areas.
4. Create a Mini Allotment
The Skinny Jean Gardener, Lee Connelly, shared his top tips for getting you and the kids growing your own edible produce. Lee says “grow something that you love to eat” and to keep it simple and easy with low maintenance fruit and veg. With space often being an issue for gardeners, Lee shares that you can create a mini allotment with just a window sill or washing up bowl!
5. Think about Wildlife
Designer Tom Massey shared with us how to encourage wildlife by growing a mini-meadow. To create a meadow planting scheme, mix ornamental grasses with perennials to add both colour and movement to your displays.
Providing foliage all-year-round, evergreen plants are perfect for adding colour, structure and height to any outdoor space. Get inspired to create your own green oasis with this amazing selection of evergreen plants, shrubs and climbers.
Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’
A glossy purple evergreen plant that blooms with small, pink flowers throughout the summer. Ideal for pots, borders and providing a colour contrast against light-coloured plants.