Gardening as therapy

by Lydia

I had an area at the bottom of my garden that was very untidy. It was used as a general dump for hedge trimmings and other garden rubbish that we didn't have time to take to the tip. We had the occasional bonfire to get rid of some of the surplus but this wasn't something we could do regularly because of the smoke blowing over to the neighbours' houses.

My father was downsizing to a smaller property and was very stressed about the whole process of moving. He used to have an allotment where he grew veg and the house he was moving out of had a large garden too.

His new home was much smaller and the garden could only be described as a pocket handkerchief. Most of it is down to gravel, with just a couple of small troughs to liven it up.

My sister and I were very concerned about his state of mind so we came up with a plan to help him work through the distress of leaving his big house, full of memories of our deceased mother.

My sister suggested that we should turn the "rubbish corner" of my garden into an allotment for Dad. She said that if I was to start to poke around and say that I wanted to clear it up that Dad would not be able to resist and it would help to replace the allotment that he'd just given up.

It turns out that she was completely accurate in her assessment!

Dad always comes here on Sunday afternoons, so one day, after he'd arrived and we'd had a cup of tea, I told him that I was going to do a bit of work in the garden. He said he would come outside with me. I started to clear up some of the rubbish from the corner and told him that I was thinking of digging a vegetable patch.

As predicted, he couldn't resist the challenge of turning something that was useless into something that was productive. Although it was already into May he cleared and cleaned up the corner and grew a sizable crop of onions, some carrots, marrows, cucumbers, outdoor tomatoes and some French beans.

He has already dug the plot over, planted autumn onions and has plans to grow all kinds of things in the coming year.

This vegetable garden, although quite small, has been productive and was the perfect therapy for my dad to deal with the hassle of moving house.

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