Once upon a time there was a modern house with a rectangular garden
One day, during winter, new owners moved into the property and they took many days, weeks and months to decorate; put up shelves, purchase new furniture and technology and play with soft furnishings like children with Barbie dolls. When visitors came to the house, they were taken into many different rooms. “What do you think of the colour; the style; the ornaments; the furniture?” asked the owners? They drank tea (and sometimes wine or beer, depending on the time of day and the mode of transport).
The new owners, let’s call them Adam and Annie Poppins, were very happy.
The excitement fades
But after a while, they stopped showing people round because everyone had already seen the house. They still drank tea, or wine or beer, but the excitement seemed to have disappeared. “I know!”, exclaimed Annie one day in very early spring. “Let’s go out in the garden because the warmer weather is here and it will be lovely outside.” So they flung open the patio doors and skipped out onto the patio. As they landed, their inappropriate shoes slipped and skidded on slimy green algae and they up-ended into a highly embarrassing, untidy heap. Their designer clothes were covered in brown smears and they looked at each other, aghast.
The scene before them looked bleak and was in complete contrast to the interior from whence they had come. Grey mould coated the white retaining walls; the grass was long, lank and damp and last year’s brown and crispy flowers were bent and broken. Piles of rotting leaves lurked in corners; there was debris covering up the Aco drain and stagnant water sitting in puddles around the door.
The visitors mumbled hurried excuses and decided they needed to leave.
“We seem to have forgotten all about the garden”, declared Adam Poppins, who had only ever owned a city balcony before. The couple looked around their rectangular patch rather forlornly. “It’s very boring”, said Annie. “Our balcony had better views and it wasn’t so damp”. So they went indoors, pulled the curtains, and switched on the TV.
Now, who should pop up on their brand new 65” HDR screen? “It’s that Alan Titmarsh”, declared Annie. “Titch”, retorted Adam to his 6ft 2” tall wife. The gardening guru was busy renovating and re-modelling a tiny plot which wasn’t dissimilar to their own.
Before they even realised what was happening, Adam and Annie found they were sitting a little taller and the both felt a tiny seed of hope. By the time the end of the programme was nigh, the seed had germinated and a calm horizon of hope was dawning.
And so began a new era for our Poppins duo, who would could hardly contain their eagerness to begin. Having already spent far too much money on their interior design, they discovered that gardening was free.
They cleared the slippery, slimy surfaces, chopped back the undergrowth; washed the walls and they even borrowed a jet wash to clear the drains and spruce up the patio. “I feel energised”, exclaimed Annie, who had secretly missed the excitement of improving their new home as the house had neared perfection.
From that moment onwards, every spare moment was spent outdoors in a bid to raise the standard of the place in which they lost some friends.
Along their new path to happiness, our two townies discovered a developing bond with neighbours and with others eager to help them achieve a garden of which to be proud. They were given surplus plants, advice and even labour, without having to ask. They gradually discovered something that money can’t buy: enjoyment from being outdoors. In fact, they were having so much fun that they barely noticed that they liked the company of their new friends even better than the old.
Anyone can enjoy gardening, from posh to poverty-struck. You don’t need much in the way of money, tools, knowledge or even land. You can garden in a tiny window box, a raised bed, a roadside verge (might need to seek permission from the council or landowner) or you can offer your help to a neighbour. The internet can provide answers to the questions that your fellow gardening friends can’t answer. You can grow plants for free and share with friends.
Happiness grows in a pot and in a plot. Try growing some this gardening season and see what happens to your health and wellbeing – you should find that it blossoms!