Hi in July!

Hi! Writing a blog on here feels weird now and I don’t know why, perhaps it is because what I would usually be putting on here is now going on social media, in my email newsletter and/or in Kitchen Garden magazine, so it means I don’t want to duplicate things in case of annoying you. But, then you may not actually see my monthly features or use social media. Would you like me to perhaps post some of my magazine features on here too, once they have been released for you to read? Wow, welcome to my brain, *facepalm*.

Anyway, I just really wanted to come say hi! How are we and how is it July already? Lockdown is making this year go super fast to me! I thought I share with you a run through of the last 6 months for me, what I’ve been up to physically, mentally and all things in between. Plus, share lots of photos of my towpath garden for you to enjoy. Here is a few to start us off…

I have found lockdown and managing the anxiety of covid a bit like a roller coaster, there has definitely been good and bad days. I missed seeing my family very much, especially when my mum and dad both had the virus. Am I washing my hands enough? Ouch, but my hands are so sore and cracked. Have I accidentally touched my face when I shouldn’t? Should I ease up along with the guidelines or go at my own slower pace? Oh and I miss hugs so bad!! I’ve had so many questions and thoughts.

In terms of work, I thought I would be much quieter with my client gardening job being put on hold, shows and talks being cancelled, my school work stopping when the schools shut and being unable to go the Northamptonshire adult therapy site. But, actually it has been crazy busy with column writing, podcast recording, creating free resources, promoting the release of my first book, running the 2020 National Growing for Wellbeing Week, making many delicious and explosive elderflower based concoctions and doing a lot of business admin. Plus I also decided to use some of my not so free time to do a 10 week online psychology course with Oxford University. Yes, I was one of those people. I have always wanted to study psychology since my own mental health has been better, but don’t have the funds or time to dedicate to a degree or other full time course now, so this short course seemed and was perfect. It was brilliant and absolutely fascinating, I learnt so much about our brains and why we think and behave how we do. Although now its got me wanting to learn and study more… eeekk!

One great thing about lockdown is that I have been able to dedicate more time than usual to my own garden and play with my plants just for pure joy. It’s been so wonderful being able to grow plenty of homegrown produce and herbs again! You would think only being able to grow in containers, even with over 100, would be limiting and although I can’t grow sweetcorn, pumpkins and cauliflower for example, I can nearly grow everything. I have runner beans, courgettes, french beans, peas, mangetout, strawberries, perennial kale, radishes, chard, rhubarb, mint, chamomile, lavender, chives, thyme, basil, tomatoes, potatoes, oregano, rosemary, rocket, mustard leaves, blackberries, figs and carrots. I love it so much!

I can’t forget the ornamental plants either can I?! As someone who never used to get smitten with ornamentals, I have amassed quite a collection, including clematis, foxgloves, lillies, poppies, roses, lupins, geums, echinacea, astrantia and achilleas. All pollinator loving ones of course!

Now as we come out of lockdown, I really want to make sure I still give myself enough gardening time, just for me. Playing with plants as well as knitting, really are my therapy secrets for managing day to day stresses and any anxiety.

On the topic of going forward in this new normal, two weeks ago I finally opened the first adult therapy site and welcomed the first client gardeners who now have their own mini allotments for the next year! Wahoo!! It’s a dream come true, which I will write a whole blog about for you very soon. I have more people visiting next week as well, who are interested in either becoming plot holders or volunteers. After a year, it finally feels like it is coming together!

Also on going forwards, I recorded a podcast this morning with Harry from LagomMind, which will be available soon. We discussed my mental health journey over the years, my work and the struggles I still have today, but he also asked whether I think those who have picked up gardening during lockdown will stick with it and will our more appreciate minds for nature impact how we build office spaces, buildings and homes. What do you think? I found it hard to give a defined answer, especially when I feel that many property developers and key decision makers within that industry are very money driven. Do you agree or is that a bit harsh? Keeping positive though, I gave my thoughts, hopes and dreams regarding property development, outside education, the need for improved work environments and the importance of a positive view. One thing for sure, is that I really hope everyone that has got in to gardening over the last few months, sticks with it now and forever, for their mental health but also the environment. I have noticed such a positive difference in my local space, both on the ground and in the sky.

If you are new to gardening, do you hope to stick with it? What do you hope lockdown teaches us? Has it changed your mindset in anyway or how you want your life to be going forwards? Please do let me know in the comments. After hearing different thoughts from people, these last few months really do seem to have given people time to truly think and reevaluate their wants, wishes and needs.

I will sign off now, hope that this isn’t just a load of waffle and is actually informative, thought provoking or joyful in some way. Have a wonderful weekend and I will definitely try to be back on here very soon.

Take care, Annabelle x

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