Most people who know me know that my background is in nursing. Having always had a huge passion for the outdoors, nature and gardening it seemed an obvious thing for me to retrain in Horticulture. I must say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
I found early on in my new chosen career that gardening and all things green have huge therapeutic benefits for all of us, not just me.
So, ten years ago with a new career working for the wonderful local charity Horticap I set off on my journey of natural discoveries and I haven’t looked back since.
Having worked in the magical natural environment that is Thorp Perrow for nearly eight years now I get to examine not only my own interactions in nature but other peoples too. In a world that is so scarily chaotic soaking up nature is the best form of therapy anyone can possibly have. It’s not only good for our physical bodies it’s also good for our mind and soul!
Gardening as a therapeutic activity is becoming more and more common place and it’s great to see this. But you really don’t need to have any clinical illness to get benefit from this very simple pastime.
Only last week I took the opportunity myself by using pruning in the Arboretum as a way of connecting after a particularly intense few weeks of working away. The peace I felt from simply being in the middle of such a beautiful place, snipping away at the ever-growing Hydrangeas that grow on banks that bloom with vibrant colour throughout the Summer, was amazing. I made sure I took in every colour I could see, every natural sound I could hear and every movement I made was a very deliberate connection. It was a really great day and I literally felt like the cobwebs really had been blown away by the very gentle breeze that was had on that day.
But you know, even if you have absolutely no Horticultural knowledge you can still get benefit from being outdoors – not having green fingers is not an excuse! Just simply walking in a place of natural beauty is an amazing way of shedding any stresses and it’s believed that simply gazing on a natural view can calm the mind and body.
A couple of months ago we introduced a scheme called Silent Space into the Arboretum. This wonderful project was set up in 2016 by my lovely friend, Liz Ware. A woman after my own heart Liz was becoming increasingly aware of our hectic world and the importance of finding time for silent reflection. She made it her mission to encourage everyone everywhere to simply ‘switch off’ from distractions in beautiful, peaceful surroundings.
Our Thorp Perrow Silent Space is located in Autumn Bay One. This tranquil bay is not only glorious in Autumn but at any time of the year you can find wonder in this area. There is the loveliest seat positioned half way up the bay so you can simply sit, switch off and wonder.
Now not everyone finds it easy to sit quietly and watch the world go by and one group of people that may find this hard are children. Our children are growing up in a world that’s filled with the most amazingly useful technology all very handy but this can also be disconnecting. I am a huge believer in children being outdoors, of Forest Schools and outdoor classrooms. Thorp Perrow is the perfect place for children of all ages to experience, learn and be free, the children’s playground is an amazing area to get physically active, to let off steam and really tire those ever-active little minds. The bird of Prey and Mammal Centre is a great place to learn, teach respect and love animals and to really get hands on with some serious fluffiness. We have just developed with children in mind our ‘Walk in the Woods’ pack, using resources from the Woodland Trust, Nature Detectives. This brilliant pack will guide and encourage the whole family to really explore together Thorp Perrow and the natural wonders we are so lucky to share on this truly amazing planet!
Half term is coming up, I would love for families to visit us with this in mind. You can purchase a Walk in the Woods pack from our Tearoom for £2.00 and our Enchanted Wood Trail runs from Friday 26th May to Sunday 4th June.
Photo Credit – Rod Bennington