Purple Wellies

One woman's musings of plant lust for intoxicating blooms

Gardens and green spaces

Gardens and green spaces have become ever more important in the last few weeks and will continue to do so in the immediate future. We have always had an intrinsic connection with nature, whether we realised it or not, but it is only more recently we have put a name to it. Biophilia, the desire to surround ourselves with plants and nature for positive effects on our mental wellbeing, is something we have built up over millennia.

Of course, not everyone will have a ‘Chelsea’ worthy garden. What is important that you try and get the most out of what you have right now. If the weather is nice then choose to hot-desk outside to get your office or school work done, it’s been proven to aid productivity, or even try taking conference calls outside whilst strolling around your garden.

If you have never felt inclined to garden before then now is the time to get acquainted with what plants you have. If you are unsure then apps such as PlantSnap and Plantifier can help you out with identification and save you hours thumbing through a gardening book or online.

Alternatively, you could start to think about the planning stages of your dream garden. Designers, like myself, are still able to help you realise your gardens potential through Lockdown by working remotely through video calls or in isolation onsite if the garden is able to be accessed directly.

Plus-points to getting outside and dabbling in the garden, regardless of your skills, is the immersion of it all. Watching nature grow, observing every little nuance with your plants will mean you start to learn when they are flourishing and when they are not. The sound of birdsong, which in my garden is near enough constant, can have a relaxing mindfulness effect. The physical exertion involved in chopping stuff back and digging over the soil will improve fitness levels and the extra exposure to sunlight, albeit with sun cream, will increase vitamin D levels.

As well as healing mentally, plants can physically heal too. Digitalis, Hydrangea and Aconitum are well known for being toxic, but paradoxically they are used in medicines to treat heart disease and cancer. Quinine, derived from the bark of a tree, is most known for its use in malaria drugs. Small traces will also be found in that bottle of tonic water at the back of your cupboard. Whilst it is still early days, hydroxychloroquine, a compound derived from quinine, is showing some positives in the treatment of COVID-19, only time will tell if this proves a success.

Humans alone are not the only ones to suffer from viruses. Since the start of the year plant passports have now come into place. For nurseries selling plants online or for designers and landscapers supplying clients with plants they should also be providing a plant passport so each stage of the transportation process is tracked. This is so any issues with serious plant health can be traced back. The olive plantations throughout Europe have been devastated by bacteria, Xylella fastidiosa, which is transported by sap sucking insects. This poses a serious threat worldwide due to its ability to target and kill so many other species, whilst others act as asymptomatic carriers. Imports of coffee and Polygala myrtifolia species are now banned, with severe restrictions on garden favourites such as olive, lavender and rosemary. The best way to prevent this from entering the country is to buy UK sourced and grown plants.

So, what to do if you want to start growing flowers, fruit or veg, but haven’t a clue where to start, or in the current climate, where to source from. The RHS have published a list of nurseries that would have been at their flower shows and can be found here:


The majority will be offering mail order online, although some will be limiting the number of orders per day in order to keep up with demand. Squires Garden Centre, Longacres and Woking Garden Centre are all delivering locally, although minimum spend may apply. Maybe if you only need a few things try and club together with your neighbours.

Quick and easy flowers to try growing from seed include Nigellas, Calendulas, Cornflowers and Nasturtiums. If you have never tried growing edibles before then now may be a good time to start as you will be able to keep a close eye on their development whilst at home more. Salad crops, peas and potatoes are all easy starters for novice growers. It is also important to remember that you will probably make mistakes, but that is how all good gardeners learn so don’t get disheartened. For those with very limited outdoor space or no space at all, window boxes, steps and ledges all lend themselves to growing. Microgreens are perfect for sunny windowsills, being quick to crop and can be grown on moist kitchen towel. They include basil, broccoli, wheat grass and red cabbage.

If you lack gardening equipment, then you don’t necessarily need to buy any. Containers and seed trays can be fashioned from everyday packaging and objects such as margarine cartons and toilet roll tubes, whilst milk cartons can be repurposed as watering cans.
Posted: 01/05/2020 22:02:33 by Global Administrator