Sow the Seed of Good Health

Guest post by Courtney Conroy, RHS Garden Harlow Carr

The time pressures of today, from juggling work, family and other commitments, can have a negative effect on your mental well-being. We can all, too often than not, get caught up in our hectic lifestyles, which tend to lead us to spending too much time indoors, stimulated by the gentle hum of a screen.

With the rate of depression on the rise among people in the UK, it’s important that we pay attention to our mental health and sense of well-being. Many studies have been carried out which look into the positive effects of spending time in ‘green space’ or ‘the great outdoors’, and the natural settings of the garden can in itself offer a restorative environment – that’s without putting any work in, and the more you put in the more you’ll get out; mentally, physically and, for the garden, aesthetically.

You reap what you sow, and working in any outside space will offer you some sense of freedom and connection with nature, whether that’s a woodland walk, growing vegetables in an allotment or weeding your front lawn, it could even be as simple as growing a few pot herbs on a high rise balcony.

So, if you don’t need particular skills or even that much space, what’s stopping you? It’s time to plant the first seed to better health and, as they say, ‘dig for victory’! Below are some ways on how you could get started:

  • Join a gardening club or community garden project. This is a great way to reap the rewards of a garden, even if you don’t have your own. It also has the added benefit of social interaction from working within a team and this could lead to new, life-long friends.
  • Again, if you’re limited for space or don’t have a garden, you could always grow herbs on your windowsill, which you’ll also be able to use for cooking.
  • Sign up for a plot on an allotment or grow veg in your own garden. Growing your own food will give you a real sense of accomplishment and pride, as you serve up meals that you’ve grown from scratch. The health benefits go on, as you may decide to grow organically and the physical activity is a great form of exercise.
  • Volunteer at a local park or garden and learn new horticultural skills from people in the know.
  • Utilize outside space at work for gardening or growing food. Obviously you’ll need to get permission from the powers that be, but this could prove a great opportunity to get outdoors on your lunch break and team-build with your workmates.
  • Just take a walk! Whether you head out into the woods, open countryside or just the park, spending time with family and friends could be the start of many happy memories, and you’ll also benefit from natural vitamin D from the sun, exercise and fresh air.

RHS Garden Harlow Carr is a garden dominated by water, stone and woodland. As the most northerly of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden’s, Harlow Carr is a great example of what can be grown successfully in the region’s challenging conditions.

From Garden’s Through Time to the Streamside Walk, Woodland, Main Borders and Kitchen Garden, Harlow Carr offers a great space to relax with friends, meander with the family and take inspiration from the many beautiful and interesting planting displays.

The garden also has its own, on-site Betty’s Café Tea Rooms for an indulgent treat with friends, and if you fancy some retail therapy, then enjoy browsing in the RHS Gift Shop & Plant Centre, which stocks an extensive range of books, home and gift ware, seeds, plants and gardening tools.

For more advice and information on horticulture, RHS Garden’s and growing your own food, visit the RHS website at You can also follow RHS Garden Harlow Carr on Twitter @RHSHarlowCarr.

As a business strategist with decades of expertise in helping owner managers and family businesses to achieve a work/life balance, contact me on or go to @richardwhatif on Twitter, Richard Bosworth on LinkedIn or

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