• Nicola Revill

Earthly joys: sowing seeds of hope.

In times of trouble, it is often the case we turn to Mother Nature for self-forgetfulness when trying to escape our growing anxiety balling up inside us. For many lucky enough to own our own piece of outdoor greenery, our gardens have become a safe haven a refuge and a sanctuary. My garden is my stronghold and my wellbeing prop. Becoming wholly absorbed in small tasks such as planting seeds, clearing a patch of weeds or just sitting to listen to the birds I can lose myself to the outside world and all the upset that is happening is for a moment forgotten.

Looking for what positives I can from the current COVID-19 situation I can say that I have noticed a reduction of air and road traffic noise, the morning singing of birds is clearer and louder. Clear nights not fogged up with pollution makes the nocturnal sky brighter and purer. The healing power of the natural world is well known. Birdsong swells the spirit, the scent of cut grass set the senses tingling, that deeply earthy smell of turned soil, morning frosts melting in the weak sun, dripping from branches. Gossamer spangled with dew as the early mist lifts at dawn and spider webs, miraculously intricate and subtle, displaying their fatal works of art.

On sunny days, the greenhouse has once again become my secret abode, warm and nurturing, a place few will venture so I am left to my own devises to indulge in some needless tinkering, cleaning out old compost from pots, gathering together errant plant labels, unpicking bits of string from bamboo canes. Seed packets have been gathered from around the house, retrieved from windowsills, relieved of their duties as a temporary bookmark and some beetroot seeds I thought I lost last year magically appearing in an overlooked vase.My yearning to hold on to seeds I know will never grow still, I have seeds I know I will never grow (asparagus from seed, I mean, why would I?) but they bring me comfort, the capacity to grow a variety of food at my fingertips gives a sense of invincibility.I’ll be sure to involve the kids, glad to be relieved of their daily routine instilled on them, by us, the conscientious parent and newly appointed home schooler, from the routine we try to follow as closely as possible to try mimic a typical school day.Gardening has been found to be a great activity for children, it improves their confident and develop leadership skills as they are given responsibility of growing a plant and being responsible for its future wellbeing. Given a child the task often viewed by them as ‘adult work’ helps to grown their self-assurance. It is also a relaxing, fun and engaging way to occupy their creative minds while actually involving them in a highly logical activity that requires a knowledge of cause and effect. My girls now have plenty of years’ experience in their young lives and know to rake the beds flat before drawing a thin drill using the end of a broom handle and finally pinching a few seeds from the packet between their finger tips and gently letting the tiny pips drop onto its new home before being tucked over with soil and watered. The strawberry patch has been tidied up, the obstinate runners finally heeded and cutback, a more robust fruit cage has been constructed, if only in my head, but hopefully will see fruition. Tiny tomato plants and cucumber plants endure cold nights and show unfaltering pluck to thrive and grow stronger.Courgettes, purple basil and runner bean seeds are still snug in their own earthy beds, like irksome teenagers refusing to push their heads out from under the covers.Enjoying these simple pleasures reminds me that before this terrible disaster of Covid-19, too many of us went around, heads bowed over our phones, ignoring all around us.

Mother Nature will indeed come to you if you stop and listen.

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