A Daily Dose of Green Things Growing… Welcome to The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain
Hello my loves and thank you for clicking on the link to bring you to this post. I’m hoping you are all happy, fit and well. However, if, like me, you’re feeling rather like life has given you a metaphorical box around the ears this year, then this might just be the post for you!
As you may have noticed, within the pages of all the books I have written, I have managed to squeeze in, sneak in, expertly incorporate – call it what you will – quite a few things I love. We’ve had baking, crafting, vintage, farming, rock pooling and of course lots and lots of Christmas, and my brand-new book, The Winter Garden is no exception to this indulgent rule.
I have long been an advocate of taking, what I call, ‘a daily dose of green things growing’. You might have seen it popping up on my Insta account and in my Tweets and now it’s snuck its way, quite deliberately and in a big way, into The Winter Garden and, even if I do say so myself, I don’t think the timing could have been any better.
It has been scientifically proven that getting outside, taking a few mindful breaths of fresh air and looking at plants (both real and even pictures of), sets off chemical reactions in the brain which stimulate, distract and ultimately make us feel better. Millions of us have honed in on that ‘feel good vibe’ and the burst of happy feelings the great outdoors gives us during this strange and unsettling year, haven’t we?
Gardens have been tidied, redesigned and planted, vegetables and fruit have been grown in abundance and tens of thousands of walks have been taken. If there’s anything positive to be gained from living through 2020 then I very much hope that this is it and I have my fingers firmly crossed that everyone will keep it up now the seasons are set to change again because a daily dose of green things growing isn’t just a pandemic coping strategy my loves. It’s a mantra for life.
That said, with the shift in the weather and the imminent change to our clocks, sticking to these new routines, is going to get harder so be prepared.
In The Winter Garden, two of the Nightingale Square and Prosperous Place neighbours have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). One in particular is keen to keep it at bay and in doing so offers other local suffers the chance to embrace the challenge and join him in the battle.
SAD is something many of us struggle with, even if we haven’t been officially diagnosed. The shorter days, where dark moods linger and do their utmost to settle take a toll and that is why I’ve included Luke’s Winterfest weekends in the book, to encourage everyone who reads it to embrace, and carry on with, the healthy practices we have adopted throughout lockdown.
In fact, let’s not call it lockdown, let’s not place such negative connotations on the restrictions forced upon us because what working from home, being more confined to barracks, has offered many of us, is more freedom and flexibility than we’ve ever had.
We’ve already done the hard work – since March we’ve been crafting that time into a shape that benefits us, ie, through gardening and walking, getting to know our local patch, and even though there’s now less daylight and less sunshine and, as I type this, rather less restrictions, we need to dig deep (no pun intended) to employ the willpower to keep it all going.
I consider myself most fortunate in that I have a garden, albeit a tiny one, because I can feel the benefit of nature without even having to get dressed. A lap of my little plot is approximately 50 paces and even when I haven’t felt like properly going out, I’ve still managed to hit 10,000 steps a day. Yes, that amounts to a LOT of laps and yes, it’s a tad monotonous, but at the end of the day I know I’ve done something and I’ve admired the birds, the sky, the weather and the plants as I’ve done it. I’ve breathed in life enhancing fresh air and if that’s all I’ve managed to achieve that day, then it’s still quite something, right?
I know there are many people who sadly have no garden at all, but that doesn’t exclude you from enjoying the daily dose. Sales of houseplants have gone through the roof and they don’t have to cost the earth. Put a plant in each room, or six in one, tend and nurture them, grown cress with the kids, monitor their progress every day and then pull on your coat and go for a walk. Force yourself is necessary. I guarantee that you’ll arrive home ruddy cheeked, out of puff and feeling ever so slightly smug that you made the effort when all you really wanted to do was curl up for another hour.
If you’re a list maker like me, then take it a step further and have a winter plan in place before the clouds come calling. Set yourself some of those nature-based craft projects described in The Winter Garden. A simple journal, a collection of leaves and cones in a bowl, a nature based Insta account will all help get us through the cold, dark days and beyond. And we won’t be just enduring them, we’ll be enjoying them.
Whether you have a garden or not, don’t let the change in the season defeat you. Find ways to embrace it, notice it and above all, be a part of it. Take your own daily dose of green things growing and make it a habit for life, not just for 2020!
Stay safe and well my loves, Heidi xx
The Winter Garden is out now in paperback and eBook.