The new lockdown measures will leave millions of us isolated at home, and will undoubtedly deepen the already growing mental health crisis. What can we humble gardeners do to alleviate the strain on others and ourselves?
Many of us found the answer last lockdown to be gardening - it can be a crucial lifeline this time around too. Yes, the garden isn't the most inviting at this time of year - unless accompanied with piping mulled wine or a tea if your new years resolution has kicked in, and artic grade coats - but the indoor garden is very much calling.
Many of us proper mud-loving big herbaceous border gardeners have never really seen the appeal of smaller scale, indoor gardening. But the jungle within doesn't have to be on the tiny side - we can embrace monster specimens like Ficus Lyrata - the fiddle leaf figs with their ginormous glossy green leaves. Other Ficus varieties like Benjamina Exotica, have a wonderful weeping form that can only brighten ones day.
For the outdoor creative designer-come-gardener, the need to play with textures, colours, and form can be equally achieved indoors. Just a fernery inside can combine a multitude of foliage colour and form. Cacti and succulents can be arranged and re-arranged every day for different colourful displays. And no indoor garden guide would be worth the read without mentioning the terrarium - a microgarden with its own climate within the home, and a great project for kids being home schooled.
With the office closed - we can't be the only ones who think this is the best thing to ever happen? - we have the freedom to curate our own little hub, whether it is at the kitchen table or in a hidden hubbub at the end of our garden. These spaces we visit everyday, and they can become very familiar, and well vanilla, without the edition of some bright colour interest - created your gallery wall of prints yet? Or the soothing greenery of some lush trailing or climbing house plants like the Devil's Ivy, String of Pearls, or the insta-famous Swiss Cheese - it is actually a climber that needs support after it hits new heights.
And will this all make a difference in the most depressing months of the year?
The Royal Horticultural Societies latest research shows it could - as they found just a handful of plants in a front garden had the same impact on our mental wellbeing as 8 mindfulness sessions.
We can see the impact of plants on wellbeing in action - NHS gardens have been created by star designers like Tom Stuart-Smith to improve patient recovery rates. GPs have for last year or so not only recognised gardening as a therapeutic treatment, but have also prescribed it as a mental health mindful treatment for patients suffering with anxiety and depressions. And lest not forget all the charities and other organisations set up to bring the joy of plants to vulnerable people around the UK.
At Plant Drop we supported the Phoenix Glade project created by Treehouse Liverpool - designed to recognise the victims of the pandemic in the local community - by sourcing the thousands of white crocus bulbs that underplant the heart-shaped tree glade.
Beyond all the studies and projects that have an impact on people's wellbeing, we have the inexplicable anecdotal evidence of having survived the last lockdown in our greenhouses, gardens or on our balconies. Just this time we need to bring the garden indoors.