At times like these we could all use something that will help us calm our minds. So we spoke to leading florist and nature writer Willow Crossely about what we can be doing to bring a little of the outdoors in and how we can use the power of nature to heal. This is gardening like you've never thought of it before.
YOUR TOP TIPS FOR GARDENING (EVEN IF YOU'RE JUST GETTING INTO IT)
Start small! It's very easy to feel overwhelmed by all the possible choices out there. I would suggest starting small by choosing few types of flower seeds to sow. Cosmos are brilliant to begin with as they germinate in a few days, perfect for impatient people! I also love Gaura, larkspur, sunflowers, Nigella.
- Sweet peas are a great seed to start with and flower for months on end.
- I also love Pinterest for inspiration.
- Invest in some some basic tools. Seccateurs, a trowel, fork and spade.
Research the type of flowers you want to grow by reading books and looking on line. Sarah Raven, the RHS and Gardener’s World websites are brilliant fonts of knowledge.
Timing and planning is key. Work out a plan of what you are going to sow when and what will be in flower at what time of the year. I have a special notebook just for my garden notes.
I cant get enough of Pelargoniums; my house is filled with them all year round. Mrs Pollack -amazing variegated leaves - is one of my faves. Look out for the delicious scented ones.
THE POSITIVE EFFECTS OF WALKING ON MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING.
I use walking as my time out. A time to breathe and reconnect with myself. When everything feels too much I use walking as a medicine. Being active releases cortisol which helps us manage stress.
According to psychologists who study how exercise relieves anxiety and depression, a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout.
The joy of walking is that (pretty much) anyone can do it. You don’t need to be super fit. You don’t need a gym membership. Unlike exercise classes, you can fit it into everyday life. There are no timetables to keep to. It doesn’t require concentration so you switch off, relax and enjoy your surroundings.
- My best walks are in nature; in the woods or fields near my house. Try and keep off the pavements and find some green space near your home.
- When working life gets back to normal if you can, take meetings outside. Barack Obama was well known for his walking meetings.
- Invest in a pedometer. A brilliantly motivational piece of kit that measures how many steps you take each day. 10,000 steps is a good target to start with. I get very competitive with myself and always try to beat my highest score.
- If walking is a chore, listen to music or a podcast as a means of distraction.
- If you’re feeling over whelmed at your desk, take a ten minute break and walk round the block to clear your head.
- Encourage your children to walk with you; make it fun, turn it into a treasure hunt, look for conkers/funny coloured leaves/feathers.
- Invest in some comfortable trainers.
TIPS FOR BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN
At this time of year, i dot little muscari plants down my kitchen table, potted into old terracotta pots.
The garden is coming to life and so i fill vases with paper whites, hellebores and euphorbia.
Im spending a lot of time planting seeds and doing therapeutic weeding and organising in the garden. I like the idea of us being as self sufficient as we possibly can so starting sowing seeds to grow carrots, spinach, watercress, lettuces and broccoli. As well as as many flowers I can fit in - cosmos, sweet peas, larkspur, gaura…
Leading florist and nature writer, inspiring us to heal through the power of nature. Based in Oxfordshire Willow creates sustainable floral arrangements that are whimsical and full or colour.