• Maureen Little

View from The Wine Shed - June 2020

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Once again, because of the Covid-19 restrictions, this isn’t a View from The Wine Shed in the strictest sense. Although I haven’t been able to visit my favourite watering hole, this picture of roses outside The Wine Shed, taken at about this time two years ago, gives me a taste of what I might have been able to see. I can imagine how the view has changed since I took the very first picture for this series of posts back in March.

Things have certainly changed during the lockdown, not just in the garden but in a wider sense too. Everyday life has been turned upside down. Established routines have been set aside, new ways of working found, new leisure activities taken up.

One thing that has struck me throughout the lockdown have been the reports of the number of people taking solace from their garden. Many people who had never even thought about growing something gradually experienced the wonder and contentment of watching a plant grow from a seed that they had sown – something that never ceases to amaze even the most experienced gardener.

In addition, the words ‘therapeutic’ and ‘gardening’ have been mentioned in the same sentence many times in various media reports. Yes, there is something wholly therapeutic about working and spending time in the garden. Many of us who, on occasions, have been bedevilled by the black dog of depression can speak from experience about the calming and peaceful effect that focussing on tasks that need full concentration can have. Imagine trying to prick-out seedlings, or carefully hand-weed a border if your mind is elsewhere?

And I’m not the only one who finds having a garden or access to an outdoor space helpful: in a survey by the RHS, précised in an article on page 2 of the I newspaper on 18th May, 71% of respondents also found it helped their mental health, and 60% said it helped their physical wellbeing too.

The opposite of all that activity is also true, however. There is value in just sitting, filling your lungs with good, clean air, being mindful of your breathing, and taking time to enjoy the stillness and silence of the garden. Actually, that is not quite right: a garden is never completely still nor silent. There’s the buzzing of bees as they dance from one flower to another, the calling and swooping of the swifts, the chirruping and sometimes squabbling of the sparrows, the tap-tap-tapping of the thrush knocking a snail against a stone, the scurrying of creatures through the shrubbery, the rustling and whispering of sunlit leaves caught in the breeze, the splashing of droplets in a water feature.

To my mind, all of these things, and more, ground us and connect us to what really matters, which is to be content and at one with who we are and what we have now, at this moment. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t aspire to greater things or to push the boundaries of our comfort zone, or simply try something new - if we don’t do these things inertness and lethargy can set in - but I think the trick is to play to our strengths and be aware of our limitations. You may enjoy opera and sing a few choruses in the shower, but why hanker after becoming professional opera singer if you are tone deaf, and when your real talent lies in teaching children about the intricacies of algebraic equations, say, or visualising and creating beautiful gardens?

Perhaps this enforced isolation has given us some time to reflect on what is important to each of us, deep down, and to put into perspective what happiness and satisfaction actually mean.

But to misquote Shakespeare’s Hamlet: There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy - so enough: I think it’s time for a glass of wine – in my own back garden.