Feeling lonely? Take to the garden

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A balcony garden.

GARDENING is helpful for good mental health, particularly with the isolation created by COVID-19, says gardening writer CEDRIC BRYANT.

Cedric Bryant.

A STUDY commissioned by the UK Royal Horticultural Society of 2000 people found 52 per cent of adults have experienced feeling alone, with 39 per cent taking to the garden to combat the feeling. 

That study was before the virus lockdown. The RHS has collaborated with the UK National Health Service to promote gardening for good mental health. 

Even with a balcony a small “garden” can be created. Illustrated here is the balcony of friends who downsized to a unit. Just look at the variety and colour of their plants! 

People can also garden in one of the numerous community gardens in Canberra, a great way to foster friendships. 

One way to overcome loneliness is to join a garden club, of which there are at least 20 in Canberra. The Belconnen Garden Club members have been sending in pictures, jokes and poems almost on a daily basis to keep in touch. 

Visit gardenclubs.org.au/locate-a-club and click on ACT for contact numbers and meeting dates.

RECENTLY we travelled to the south coast, which brought into stark reality the extent of the fires. We travelled through Bombala and the Mt Imlay Highway to Eden, about 90 kilometres of one huge area of burnt-out plantation forests across the landscape as far as the eye could see. The most amazing sight was the regeneration of tree ferns against the backdrop of burnt eucalypts; nature is amazing. 

To put the extent of the Australian fires into perspective: they burnt nearly 18 million hectares, almost the equivalent of the total area of the UK (24 million hectares). 

South coast residents have asked how they should reconsider the landscaping around their homes. Garden centres on the south coast said that after the fires there was a reluctance to plant the highly volatile, high-oil content native plants near their homes. This advice is equally applicable in Canberra; if planting natives, keep them well clear of the house and especially not near raised timber decks or verandahs.

TIME to plant asparagus and rhubarb. Here are a few hints:


  • The soil preparation for both plants is similar, although asparagus can remain productive in the same spot for 20 years. Around 20 plants is sufficient for a family of four. Prepare a raised bed about a metre wide. Dig in plenty of organic material from your compost heap plus composted horse manure, available from the Hayshed, Pialligo. 
  • Asparagus plants are either male or female. It’s preferable to buy male, as they don’t produce seed there is a higher yield of shoots. Dig trenches 30cm wide and 15cm deep. Soak the shoots for 15 minutes in a seaweed solution before planting. Place the crowns 30-50cm apart in the trenches and cover with 10cm soil. Water in with more liquid seaweed.



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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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