A flower to soothe the mind and soul

A flower to soothe the mind and soul

Tue 04 Jun 2019

From a single rose gifted to her years ago, Michelle’s garden has bloomed into her sanctuary. Over the years Michelle has tried a number of ways to manage her mental health, from medicine to counselling but her garden has helped her like nothing else. Believing gardens are good for the soul, she decided to open her garden for the National Garden Scheme, so everyone can enjoy her lovingly-created space. 

When I first moved in, the garden was completely neglected and the house itself needed a lot of work. After restoring our home and looking after a young family, it was years until I began to make the garden mine.

As a gift, one of my children gave me a miniature rose. But no matter what I did to look after it, this rose was not happy living indoors – it just wanted to be outside. Eventually I gave into this little flower and dug a small hole in the middle of my lawn, and I planted it.

When my children started school, I found myself in the garden more and more, adding new flowers and experimenting with ideas. I never sat down and designed my garden, I just wanted it to be full of life and colour, with flowing lines and shapes.

It didn’t take long for me to realise that being in my garden made me feel better. From that single rose planted years ago, I now have over 120.

Whether it’s a window box or a garden, flowers need you to survive. Because of this, even on my lowest days I know I can’t just stay indoors. I need to get outside to nurture my garden and to help it thrive.

Often doctors suggest exercise to manage your mental health and, for me, there is no better way to get active than to be in my garden – whatever the weather I am digging, cutting, and pottering about.

Sometimes I’ll simply sit outside and let the sun shine on my face or in the winter, I’ll wrap up in a blanket and feel the wind against my skin. Being in my garden reminds me I am alive.

I had heard of the National Garden Scheme for a while, but it wasn’t until a few years ago I decided to open my garden for them.

Opening for the National Garden Scheme gave me even more motivation to get outside. Knowing people were coming to visit my garden meant I simply couldn’t stay indoors – even when I felt at my lowest.

Last year was my first time opening my garden, and everyone that visited seemed so happy to be there. I remember looking around and seeing two women sat side by side enjoying the sun, and children picking daisies together perched on a picnic rug. My daughter even helped with the teas and cakes, and my mum was there to answer any of the technical gardening questions, which is not my strong point!

Even in extreme times of depression, my garden has helped me in so many ways, and with the National Garden Scheme supporting Mind it feels like it completes a circle. 

If you do not have a garden, take some time to stroll through a park. Take in the scents of the flowers, the colours of new blooms, watch it evolve through the seasons. There is nothing like a flower to soothe the soul.

For a small donation, you can also visit a National Garden Scheme garden. There are thousands open across England and Wales, with many offering a quiet spot to reconnect with nature.

For me, being in a garden is better than any medicine.

You can visit Michelle’s garden Two Cottages in Saffron Walden, Essex on June 23 and 30

To find a National Garden Scheme garden near you this summer click here.

For more on our support for Mind click here