If you want to re-connect with your roots, re-acquaint yourself with nature, and generally remind yourself about what it means to live, to be human (and therefore crafty, inquisitive, ambitious), then I strongly recommend you take some time to just have a little dig.
Uproot some Dandelions, or a bit of your lawn. Expose the soil, and take in the roots. Stick your hand into the soil, gather some of it in your hands. Give it a squeeze, and crumble it between your fingers, allowing it to gently sprinkle back down into the ground.
Take in the smell of the Earth, the texture, the colour, the weight. It’s almost like feeling Earth’s pulse. Nurse the Earth, and in turn you will find, it nurses you right back.
Upturned soil reveals:
Rooted beneath the Earth’s ‘skin’, are the fibrous, nerve like ‘wirings’, which give rise to the flowers we see, sprouting deliciously, above the surface.
They are remarkably similar to the Synapses, which are our human brain’s own ‘system of shoots & roots’, if you like.
These fire and receive the neurotransmitters, which power our emotions, thoughts, memories, actions and reactions. You can certainly liken the roots under our own skull, to the ‘flowers’, of thought and of volition.
We are the Earth.
My allotment as a symptom of a mind grown too wild:
Currently, if the state of my allotment and garden were recognised by the medical profession, as being acceptable diagnostic tools for determining state of mind, and a certified means of determining a ‘healthy psychological bill of health’, then i’d make easy work for any kind of Psychiatrist, I imagine.
Over the past six months, there have been many different events, stresses, overgrown and domineering thoughts, which have accumulated without due intervention and control, in my mind, wrecked havoc on my mental health, and my ability to ‘see’ or ‘think’ clearly. I’m thankfully beginning to make progress, towards the goal of recovery in mental, and physical health, now.
Part of this journey towards recovering, has included suddenly being able to notice, and reflect on things again. This is both good and bad- it’s reassuring and hopeful to realise I must be moving away from a negative place, because I can suddenly see quite clearly, the areas of my life and the passions enjoyed through living, which have suffered neglect.
It’s daunting, to be able to look at the overgrowth, the ‘jungle’ left to grow wild, and the flower beds without flowers, which currently shape the canvas of my allotment. Yet at the same time, it is exciting and positive, when taking into account the ‘bigger picture’ this paints. The garden endeavors.
Hinting at the prospect of the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, nearing achievement of wellness, I have to concede, while humbling, and fairly worrying, the realisation there is a mess to address, left in the wake of my mind’s little rampage and attempt at self-destruction, surely surpasses the short term moment of panic, in this story.
Imagine if all of us busy, full time working, thinking, feeling, hearing, social networking, living, breathing, sleeping people in this world, were able to find the time and the resources to be able to ‘dig for victory’ for our mental and physical health. Then have the means to look back at the ever shifting landscape of a garden/outdoor space, which we create, sustain and maintain over a number of years.
It’s funny to wonder if this would put Psychiatrists, Doctors, Therapists, self-help books and more, out of a job!
Obviously, there are practical obstacles which get in the way of having time to tend to nature- work, and living in a flat/having no outdoor space, coming to mind first as being just a few of them. It’s all well and good knowing that ‘to spend time outdoors’, in ‘fresh air’ and with Radishes growing out of your fingernails, you’re so ‘in touch with nature’, as a means to recovering mentally and physically from illness, if you couldn’t even fit a plantpot on your windowsill, or hospital bed, for that matter, if you tried.
But there are ways– and you know what they say about ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’… Personally, I think that saying works out both ways around- where there is a way, there will be a will.
Having the will to work towards the way in the first place, feels more like an oppressive reminder, of just how hard it can be to regain that will/motivation/drive, when you’ve lost sight of what it even means, feels like, or represents.
‘Will’ or ‘willpower’. The idea that you might need this first, before you can make your way to progress, might serve only to make someone feel more powerless, more trapped.
‘Means’ or ‘way’. As it happens, even when there isn’t a will, there is still a way. Sometimes, we know of many such ‘ways’ already.
When I have found myself ‘lost’ in the petrifying stomach of Depression, or other such ‘adventures’ in mental illness, I am only too aware of WHAT I have to do, to reignite the wick which fires up my will.
Sometimes, we need a bit of help, when emerging, confused, scared, and downright vulnerable. As it happens, we do still know, deep within us, what ‘the way’ is. It’s never this straight forward (typically) though we understand.
Inspiration to those who need any:
(there are so many crafty ways to get around small spaces, lack of plant pots, urban dilemmas etc):
The Revolution will be Grown.Walls of Woven Ivy Climb, Seed and Soil accosted; Replaced our captive ‘City’s’ Grey. A Greener Tomorrow, a brighter today!
- To salvage spaces, renew and revive for greener, cleaner and happier places
- To grow our own food and produce more locally grown edibles
- To master the full potential of our Sheffield Allotment, let the land teach us how and where to develop
- Combine creativity, resources and climate to find new and innovative ways to expand growing spaces upwards, downwards, left right and centre.
- Bring the garden to the people, enable others to share the joy of gardening, planting new life, reconnecting with the outdoors and the pleasures of engaging with their natural environment
- To establish roots within the local community, collaborate with social enterprising networks, and help to unify resources, ideas, and manpower for other similar projects which aspire to improve access to green spaces, and opportunities to start planning new growth
- To regenerate- Disused spaces and derelict infrastructure, could be revived and given a new lease of life with fresh purpose. Temporary pop up gardens, could be just one aspect of this!
Sheffield is a great city for green spaces, housing an eco-conscious community which fosters the creative and artistic. The social co-operative hubs and independent businesses which are budding and flourishing in the city are also very promising and positive in terms of forecasting the shape of the future to follow for Sheffield.
Sheffield would be the perfect candidate for showcasing the incredible benefits of an edible city, which encourages and nurtures urban food growing and sustainable spaces. Lets get onto this and pull our ideas together as a community to make it happen!
Upcycle– Old Doccers make for very jazzy new plantpots for the growth of Tulips, and many other things!
Take a look at some of the things we’ve achieved so far, and what we believe to be an assortment of treasures worth digging for…
Now that we have (finally) arrived into April again, the time for sowing and growing is defnitely becoming ripe.
Here are some things which like to be planted in April:
Potatoes in well-prepared (i.e. dig up the bed) soil
It is now also an ideal time to plant pot-grown fruit trees and bushes, e.g. Gooseberry/Raspberry/Blueberry bushes
Just remember keep an eye on them, because once they start producing the fruit, the birds aren’t exactly conservative about the amount of cherries to harvest and eat on your behalf!
For more in-depth info and advice: Grow Your Own- RHS- UK
For the bees and butterflies:
Foxgloves– They’re happy in part sun and shade. Bees and butterflies love them.
Hawthorns– These can grow 15-30 feet tall, so bear this in mind when planting out, because when it grows, it will cause shade (which can both good and bad, depending on what’s growing nearby)
Crocuses– These are gorgeous flowers anyway, and the Saffron pollen is irresistable to bees. It also has loads of health benefits as a herb, so you might even want to harvest some of it’s pollen for yourself!
Cerinthe– These are a personal favourite of mine, because they’re so rich in colour, and beautiful. Sow either straight out, or in seed trays indoors first, and then transplant the seedlings into the chosen flowerbed once they’re strong enough.
Buddleja (butterfly bush)- The bees and the butterflies both absolutely love this bush, and it smells absolutely gorgeous too. If you want to see a lot of butterflies this year, plant this out!
Basically, just go and buy yourself some seeds, mix and match whatever you want, and the advice about how to grow said seeds into bloom will be on the back of the packet anyway. This way, you can choose visually what kind of colours and shapes you want in your garden landscape for yourself, and all you need to do is sow them!
Let them grow 🙂
Sunflowers, Summer Red Cabbages, Artichokes and Little Gem Lettuces. All finding their way into the world from beneath the soil. Let Sunflowers live, and may the bees find ever more pollen to feast upon!
This April has been wonderful for plant growth (including weeds of course!). In particular, the Tulips, some of which are from Holland and others gathered from various Sheffield dealers, are growing exceptionally well!
I’m really pleased with the height some of the Tulips have achieved for themselves: many of the bulbs have returned from the previous year, and some were planted new in about January this year. The April Showers have caused the window box Tulips, in particular, the thrive. They have grown outside from bulb, and been subject to some pretty challenging winds here in Sheffield. It seems to have been good for them, though!
The cat’s posing next to the window box Tulips (above) is just a coincidence of cat vanity and her own shy love of Tulips.
Photo taken: 20/04/2016