01 Oct 2022

Gardening with Jo: Find your sanctuary – mine's my garden

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening with Jo: Find your sanctuary – mine's my garden

File photo

Sitting down to write this on Sunday, it's the day after the Darkness into Light virtual walks for Pieta House.

It occurred to me over the last 24 hours that we all need to be a little kinder to ourselves. My sanctuary has always been my garden, even if I’m only pottering and planning it is the very best stress reliever.

The last 14 months, though, I haven’t had that luxury as the nursery has been just so very busy and demanding that the stress levels have been at an all time high. When I needed my sanctuary the most, the demands on my time were such that it just didn’t happen.

It all got me thinking of all the things that we have to be grateful for, but in the same breath how we need to take care of ourselves. Nobody is going to take care of our welfare, physically or mentally other than ourselves.

This time of lockdowns and strangeness we could never have envisaged, and it has affected so many people in so many ways.

Mental exhaustion for lots of people has been a reality and I’m here to say that lots of times over the last 14 months that overwhelming feeling of physical and mental exhaustion has brought me to a place that I never thought I’d be.

I’ve always been a glass half full kind of person with the greatest support of my family and friends; but this has been different.

There is a feeling that I should be so lucky that we have still been able to continue here at Caragh Nurseries, albeit on a slightly different basis – but that has brought so many challenges.

I'm here to say that sometimes I haven’t coped, sometimes I’ve felt broken and on lots of occasions the worst part of it is the unkindness of other people. This period of time hasn’t always brought out the best in us.

So my challenge to all of you is to find your sanctuary. Mine is my garden and the idea that you are catching up on this gardening column makes me think that it is probably yours too.

Take more time out to protect yourself and find peace and comfort in your gardens.

Let's get back to finding the reasons that you love that piece of heaven that we all know is there. To all those who have found that peace throughout this time in your garden, pass that on.

Today I was pottering, planning and sowing seeds in my glasshouse. I’ve sown some tomatoes, peas and some annuals for the beds.

I am going back to some of the plants that make me happy, they may not be the perfect plant for the garden but they make me smile.

Some of the plants that remind me of my mum. Hydrangeas, peonies and sweet peas are all being planted in places that I see them the best. I’ve ordered a couple of new obelisks for the sweet peas and one for peas as my two youngest girls love to pick peas. I’m going to add basil and garlic to my collection too, around and in my glasshouse - the idea of making pesto again is filling me with joy. The idea of picking sweet peas and dahlias and filling small vases with them likewise.

I’m happy that I’ve been able to find my focus and hopefully over the coming weeks I’ll find that pep in my step again - but for now I’m going to try being kinder to myself, in my garden and with my family.

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