July – Trying to catch up

I don’t know if one can try to catch up ferociously, but if it is indeed a thing then I am trying to catch up ferociously.

The reason, why Covid of course. After managing to avoid it for over two years, it finally caught up with me via my husband’s cricket team who all started to test positive after an away game; the little dears.

Anyway, it knocked the legs out from under me for two weeks and even now, I still feel a tad delicate. Consequently, there are many sins of omission to account for, not least this column.

But perhaps it has taught me something. I may have mentioned previously that we have been madly busy here at the garden. Nothing wrong with busy, lots of lovely visitors and a garden that is blooming its socks off.

It does take a toll though and I was forced to realise it when I went down like a stone. I tell everyone to take time to smell the roses, relax and just be. Covid made me realise that I don’t do it myself.

  1. H. Davies wrote in his poem Leisure:

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

It’s said when he wrote it, he was influenced by Wordsworth’s sonnet, The World is Too Much With Us:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;”

Both poems talk about how in being busy we spend too little time with the recuperative power of nature. For us too, too fortunate people, nature is here on our doorstep. The beauty of gardens like Helmsley, the majestic moors, the seaside (I love Sandsend) but I know that recently, I have spent far too little time stopping to appreciate it. And I WORK HERE.

So since I have tottered back to work, I’ve made a bargain with myself. I will have regular breaks and I will get out into the garden every day, even if only for a stroll round.

This week I’m hoping I might escape the tyranny of email and do some deadheading or weeding. I’ll need to check in with our volunteer coordinator Heather, as she knows exactly what needs doing and can put me to work where it is most needed.

Many gardens have volunteers to help them keep everything looking beautiful. Perhaps the difference with Helmsley is that we want the garden to care for the volunteers.

Therapeutic horticulture is time spent in nature with others, working as part of a team in a secure and supportive environment that enhances their physical and mental health and wellbeing. It’s a preventative and a healing activity that fulfils the five steps to health and well-being (connection with others, being physically active, learning new skills, giving to others and being mindful) as defined by the NHS.

We see the benefits of gardening in all our volunteers and they say how much they enjoy it. In the month in which the UK celebrates all its volunteers, I’d like to hand the compliment right back and say how much all our volunteers do for the garden and how glad we are to have them all.

They’re a big team. Across the board, we have volunteers working in our kiosk welcoming visitors, volunteers doing day to day maintenance, our garden volunteers, our trustees, our tour guides. Together they number over a hundred and without them we wouldn’t be here.

So to all our volunteers, a very big and grateful thank you for all you do. You are amazing.

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