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11 ways growing plants can lift spirits when you’re feeling low

By Katie Wright

Ahead of the launch of new series Your Garden Made Perfect on BBC Two, Irish presenter Angela Scanlon has spoken about how “wildly comforting” gardening can be when times get tough.

“We have a small garden and honestly, I felt every day so, so grateful for it,” says the 37-year-old, who lives with her eco-entrepreneur husband and daughter, aged 2.

It’s a sentiment to which a lot of people, whether they have a garden or not, can relate. But if you’ve yet to discover the delights of plant parenthood, what are you waiting for?

Here are 11 ways growing greenery can soothe your soul during turbulent times.

1. New growth is so exciting
There’s something undeniably magical about watching tiny shoots poke out from the surface of the soil, or new leaves beginning to unfurl. You’ll find yourself rushing each morning to check on the progress of your verdant brood.

2. Flowers are even better
Foliage is one thing, but the appearance of a budding flower is even more exciting. As the days go by and that waxy red lily, bright yellow daffodil or smattering of bluebells come into full bloom, your heart will soar.

3. You can enhance your cooking
Want to know what tastes even better than a batch of pesto whizzed up with freshly cut basil? A batch of pesto whizzed up with freshly cut basil that you grew yourself.

Those who are lucky enough to have an allotment get to enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of their labour all year round.

4. Looking at plants is calming
If you’ve found yourself standing at the window staring out at your balcony, garden or window box in an almost meditative state, you may be under the influx of something called ‘fractals’.

These intricate patterns – often found in nature with things like tree branches and leaf shapes – have been shown to reduce human stress levels, which is why just gazing at plants can have a calming effect.

5. Plants attract wildlife
From bees buzzing around purple lavender flowers to squirrels scuttling along tree branches and burrowing in the soil, plants attract a whole host of wildlife, so you can feel like David Attenborough narrating the goings-on of your very own ‘green planet’.

6. You can observe them throughout the day
If you’re working from home during the pandemic, you’ll get to glimpse plant activity that would usually be going on while you’re at the office.

For instance, the way light-sensitive petals open and close at dawn and dusk, or the beautiful dappled light that filters through the trees at golden hour.

7. Plants make your home look better
All it takes is a couple of plants to zhuzh up an otherwise boring living room or bedroom and, provided you take of them, they’ll get better with age.

8. A garden feels like an extra room
For those lucky enough to have a garden, terrace, balcony or other leafy outdoor space, it’s a wonderful escape, perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee on a bright morning, or al fresco dining in summer.

9. Not killing them is an achievement
As any self-confessed serial plant murderer will tell you, when you manage not to drown, starve or otherwise neglect a house plant and it actually thrives, you’ll feel incredibly proud of yourself.

10. Repotting is so satisfying
When a plant gets to a certain size, it’s time to transfer the little darling into a bigger pot, so it’s got enough room to spread its roots.

An afternoon spent repotting is not only very relaxing, but you then get the satisfaction of watching your fledgling greenery grow bigger in its new home.

11. Plants give you something to talk about
Whether it’s comparing notes on your herb selections with your besties or asking your green-fingered dad or granny for advice, growing plants is a great excuse to strike up a chat at a time when, let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot to talk about.

You might even want to share some cuttings or gift some newly-sprouted seedlings to a friend, so together, you can track the progress of their burgeoning plant babies.

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