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How It Helped Me Through The Bad Times

Gardening Man Planting By Hand

Ok, it’s early in the year, days are short and the weather is cold and wet, do we really need such a dark and ominous title to this gardening article? Sadly we do, but bear with me, I want to prove to you the merits of gardening for the soul and why we should all take five minutes to spend time in the garden whatever the weather.

I have personally been through a very hard time. Don’t worry, it’s something we all go through and I have come through with flying colours. I feel much better now and that is down to several factors, my family for one, friends for another and most importantly, my garden. I am lucky to be able to work in some of the most amazing gardens across Oxfordshire, with acres to roam I can be lost for a day without seeing a soul, this helped me as sometimes I needed to disappear, I needed to let out some emotions. But to come home and tinker in my own garden is what saved me from my depression. There, I said it. I was depressed.

It’s a funny thing as a man to show such vulnerability but I think it is a good thing, us fellas feel the need to be strong and provide for our families. Personally, after the year I have had I learnt that real strength is being brave enough to tell someone how you are feeling. You don’t say anything as you don’t want to burden your loved ones with your issues, however, the build up can only mean you will eventually break, no matter how strong of a person you are. With lessons learnt I find myself feeling more open, more free and much, much happier in life. I can’t tell you how important this lesson has been to me and would encourage any person in this world to just talk, open up and let others do for you what you do for them – listen and help.

So, sitting in my garden the day after my turmoil, I found myself very upset, not knowing what to do with myself, cup of tea in hand. I noticed a weed in my flowerbed, how dare he, he must be gone! The next thing I knew I had been completely through the north border of my lawn and the sun was setting. I then realised I hadn’t thought of any sadness whatsoever. I was feeling much happier but still the sadness loomed, carrying on with this routine things slowly got better in my mind and at the end of the summer I had the best tended-to flowerbeds in all of Oxfordshire (I am happy to challenge anyone who thinks otherwise!) I also had a weed-free lawn, green and well watered, shall I say it was better than a bowling green? I shall. (Again, challenge me if you dare.) Now, not all of the hours spent weeding were happy ones, sometimes waves of sadness crashed over me. This is just fine, in fact it is natural, so there were tears and even wails as I forked over the flowerbeds or trimmed my topiary buxus (box hedging). At the time I wondered if I was ever going to be happy again, this is something I went on to realise that most people in depression feel, it is awful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. The emotions moved on and rather quickly, at the time I didn’t realise but when I was gardening, I was not thinking about life but concentrating on what I was doing. It was my own version of therapy, eventually over time I found myself sitting in the garden with a beer in hand or dinner on the table watching the many birds flutter in and out of the garden, the pigeons minesweeping the floor underneath the feeders as they are too heavy to work the feeders themselves. Bert my pigeon-obsessed Jack Russell would come screaming out of the kitchen to chase them off, the pigeons would fly away just in the nick of time and I would find myself smiling or even laughing at his frustration. Wait, what is this I am feeling? Oh yeah, happiness.

The darkness was interrupted by the light, and I found with time the light took over. Life got better for me. Now, I am not saying that the cure for depression is gardening but I am for damn sure saying it helped me. In this day and age we find more and more people sitting stagnant, choosing the easy life. Simply getting out in the fresh air, seeing nature with your own eyes and not through a television screen, using your hands to filter the earth of weeds and getting dirt under the finger nails – the heart rate rises and sweat beads tend to pour. With that, good old fashioned endorphins are released, the feel-good emotion. To hang out in your own slice of England, to create and build something that is yours, seeing your hard work come to life and watch others enjoy your hard work; surely this is a more than good enough reason to garden, for to garden is to feel good.

Me, My Spade and I, based in Oxfordshire and providing specialist horticultural garden services throughout the Home Counties and London. From residential houses to commercial sites which include full garden design, plant selection, landscaping and installation. ”Each season brings different life to the garden and it is my job to bring natural beauty to all of my clients’ gardens. I am truly passionate about what I do and this resonates in all my work.”

Tom Nicholas of Me, My Spade and I. 07920 112887


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