The garden: a haven of peace in times of stress and turmoil

  • Malcolm Griffiths says that now is the time to start a herb garden or include one in existing flower beds (Dorothy Edwards/Crosscut)

    Malcolm Griffiths says that now is the time to start a herb garden or include one in existing flower beds (Dorothy Edwards/Crosscut)


The garden, a place of peace and quiet; a place of refuge in times of stress and uncertainty; a sanctuary to ponder, rethink, dwell on issues in a quiet understanding way. It’s been that way through history, but particularly now when we are all passing much more time at home.

Spend an afternoon working in a garden and the world drifts by, the mind is at ease.

Now is a good time to be creative in the garden, utilising our inner ideas and seeing things in a different light and understanding. Finally, we have time to achieve that which may have been lost, our own identity to express.

Take a walk around the garden slowly, not only looking, but seeing things that require your attention or areas crying out for activity and statement.

With plant nurseries now open several days a week, take time out to visit and meld your ideas with what you find there. The longest mile is undertaken with the first small step, think your way through the random ideas that spring to mind.

Consider revitalising your patios — front and back — with modules of containers.

Make a list that will allow you to have seasonal plantings of flowers and foliage.

The same can be had with herbs grown in containers or, in a larger area, start an herb garden or include one in the flower beds; such an approach will enhance your food preparation and turn old favourites into new-found flavourful dishes.

The aroma from herbs, especially when touched, emanates throughout a space and mingles with other garden fragrances.

Pots and containers are versatile and can be used anywhere — even in a garden bed.

It is, however, important to always consider the size and shape to determine what it is best usage.

By using annuals, herbs bulbs and small herbaceous plants, one can create their own Garden of Eden.

The important point is to remember it is a seasonal exercise, so annuals will need to be changed once they start to lose their vibrancy and replanted immediately.

For the more adventurous, instead of purchasing annuals in cell packs and then planting them on, consider starting your own seed growing.

Once germinated, prick them off into a PDQ pot [Pretty Damn Quick] approximately three inches square and, once established, ie, when new growth and flowers appear, plant out in containers or indeed as part of the flower bed.

Houseplants are, more than not, neglected which is a pity as they do create a feeling of the outdoors being indoors, especially if well maintained and healthy.

Now is a good time to look at them. In most cases I would think they would need to be potted on to a larger pot.

To start with, gently knock the plant out of the pot to check root growth, which should be evenly spread around the root ball.

If this is the case, repotting should consist of replanting in a pot with a good two-inch gap between the root ball and the side of the new pot.

Prepare the new pot by cleaning any loose debris from its inside, then cover the hole in the bottom of the pot with some grave to allow for drainage.

Place new potting compost (specifically for houseplants) in the pot to a depth of several inches; place the plant in the pot so that the top of the root ball is approximately one inch below the rim of the new pot, and pack the compost around the sides of root ball. Gently tap the pot to straighten the soil level and water in it. If the roots are wrapped around the root ball, then gently loosen them to encourage new growth prior to adding more compost.

At a time like this, tackle the small jobs that never seem to be given time and which at some point, will be past caring.

The result will be satisfying and could even “kick start” the interest level in what in reality is an extension to your home and, unlike your home, does not need painting but does need attention.

Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the UK. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society

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Published Apr 20, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 20, 2020 at 7:46 am)

The garden: a haven of peace in times of stress and turmoil

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