Home My garden Coronavirus: Keep calm and START gardening!

Coronavirus: Keep calm and START gardening!

My mam's Pieris japonica, safety transported to my house
My mam's Pieris japonica, safety transported to my house

Blog: Getting your hands dirty in soil is a pleasant change from constant washing…

We live in terrible times and it’s so important for all of us to keep mentally, as well as physically, strong in the weeks and months ahead.

I’ve been a vocal advocate of gardening for mental health for a long time. If you’re confined to barracks for the foreseeable future but still feel well, you are allowed out in your garden (don’t forget that 2m social distancing).

Perhaps you’ve never had the time or inclination before but now’s the ideal time to give gardening a try. A bit of fresh air, exercise and the satisfaction of having achieved something will really lift the spirits.

Lovely old chimney pots and hateful plastic ones
Lovely old chimney pots and hateful plastic ones

You don’t need a garden to grow plants!

What if you don’t have a garden? Well, I cut my horticultural teeth in a concrete back yard on Tyneside, so I know all about growing in containers. As a kid, I couldn’t afford fancy pots, so used to adapt anything to hand to grow plants in.

Despite having a garden now, I still grow a lot in containers – I like the fact you can mix and match them for different looks – they’re the scarves of gardening.

I spent the weekend ferrying along the last of my mam’s pots to their new home in my garden – Pieris japonica, ferns, Heuchera, Hydrangea, Acanthus and Dianthus to name a few.

The Gothic 'coffins' and sempervivums housed in my mam's old teapots and pans
The Gothic ‘coffins’ and sempervivums housed in my mam’s old teapots and pans

From Gothic coffins to sherry barrels

My mother had ‘distinctive taste’ – while I love the old chimney pots, the plastic ones aren’t so great and I actively dislike the Gothic coffins but can’t bring myself to get shot of them (the plants will cover their worst excesses).

Readers of a certain vintage will recognise two containers here – old Harveys Bristol Cream sherry ‘barrels’ that the local corner shop used to have, in the days when you could go along and buy sherry in your own bottles by the pint!

My dad drilled holes in the bottom, sawed the tops off and they’re still going strong (early 1970s plastic just will not decompose).

Harveys Bristol Cream sherry barrels from the 1970s still acting as pots
Harveys Bristol Cream sherry barrels from the 1970s still acting as pots

Easy projects if you don’t know the pointy end of secateurs – or what they are

We’re all limited in where we can go (if we’re behaving responsibly) – do try to support some of the UK’s great gardening firms online – search on my site for whatever you’re looking for and there will be a link to it.

Here are some ideas to keep you entertained:

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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