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Channeling my Chi

Dear friends,

Post-23 June 2016, social media temporarily became a joyless place, resembling an ideological ‘battlefield’ at a time when we should have been remembering the fallen who fought, without choice, for our democracy and the freedom to argue uncensored. Boom or bust, Brexit and the anti-globalisation continues…

As an antidote to the backlash, brought about by a befuddling blend word and muddy thinking, I decided to take the opportunity to extricate myself from it, in part, by launching a ‘channel’ dedicated solely to the universal love of gardening and its ‘positive’ effects on our mental health and wellbeing.

cropped-13923499_688945604593499_2071973460614678738_o.jpgPerhaps this is something that we can all agree on and become a place of refuge from a world that, quite frankly, doesn’t seem to know whether it’s on its Arisaema or its Elm bough (pun intended) and where we can grow a healthy community from the ground up.

Now, I’m not saying that gardening, per se, is the answer to world peace, but its therapeutic effects are renowned and can liberate many a mind in turmoil. So, move away from the megalomaniacs and towards the marigolds (however trite). Sorry if that offends anyone; we’ve all got a guilty pleasure!

This blog has its roots in the community – a community that is growing and extolling the virtues of health and horticulture, and self-sufficiency, but which reaches out and extends a hand to all who seek friendship through gardening, a sense of connectedness or to share my observations from a window on the world of walled gardens and more.

14753792_734311050056954_805202876811717710_oI am passionate about Social and Therapeutic Horticulture, and have witnessed, first-hand, its ability to effect a positive change on individuals of all ages – at the Leasowes Walled Garden restoration project, for example – minimising the negative impact of more dependent lifestyles.

This is not just a resource for the professional planstsman or woman amongst us; neither is it a means to deliver the perfect answer to your horticultural headaches: it’s a place to make mistakes, learn lessons, and harness the health-giving energy of gardening. The clue is in the title! So, join me on this journey and we’ll see where it takes us…

But before we set off, I’d like to give a special mention to Mick & Carole Freer and the volunteers at Leasowes Walled Garden, for their dedication to a cause, Glynis Powell at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens (for introducing me to the philanthropic Nick Booth at Podnosh – during a social media surgery – and encouraging this ‘seed’ to germinate) and Caroline Hutton at Martineau Gardens, for inspiring me with her community garden.

Namaste!
The Chi Gardener

Meadow Sweet

I’ve got my sights set on a wildflower meadow, beyond the silver fir, at the bottom of the garden. No idea where I’ll relocate the – as yet – immature Gunnera Manicata, but I’m sure I can find a solution. Besides, our bees need us and I think my Bramley would be happy to share its home with wildflowers!

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Seek solace in your surroundings.

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It might have been a dreadful and dreary day, in the UK, but there is no excuse not to get outside, if you have the means to do so, especially when gardens are all about hope and new beginnings. Despite those events that are outside of our control, sometimes we need to seek solace in our surroundings and remind ourselves that it’s still a beautiful world, however small your particular corner of the world might be. When things seem slightly out of kilter, or your mind is in overdrive, tap into those natural resources that bring you back to a place of safety.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be taking my place on Thrive’s Training and Education programme, learning how to use Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) to benefit people with Mental Health Support Needs. I look forward to increasing my awareness of the importance of horticultural programming and planning, for garden projects, and sharing this experience with you.

Darren

Cornus’s Colourful Comeback

 

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Image: © The Chi Gardener

 

Hard pruning a Cornus – such as ‘Flaviramea’ – to within an inch of its life, at this time of year, feels like an act of sacrilege the first time you wreak havoc on those wondrous whips.

But without such ruthless intervention, the stunning Winter colour, which results from new growth, would pass you by and your shrub will simply lose its sparkle.

So, sharpen up those secateurs, take a deep breath, and be cruel to be kind. All will be forgiven, and you’ll even be rewarded for your brutality, with some shimmering stems to freshen up your décor.

The Chi Gardener

Zen Den

My kind of centrefold!

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Image source: Modern Gardens Magazine – March 2017

What does Zen mean to you? To me, it’s a common theme that runs from the inside to the outside: it’s the thoughts that I think, the lifestyle that I pursue, and the elements that I choose to furnish my garden – and home – with. As a nation, we’ve borrowed from other cultures that seem to compensate for our climate or counteract the chaos of our busy lives. It’s about transporting yourself to a far-off land, a place of refuge from the trials of life or a canvas for your creativity. Whatever your style, quiet the mind and enjoy your homage to Zen!

The Chi Gardener