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  • Writer's pictureSharron Jenkins

Gardening for wellbeing

According to the Royal Horticultural Society who put on the annual Chelsea Flower Show, research has found  scientific evidence for the benefits of gardening on health, fitness and mental wellbeing.

In an earlier Kalabash blog post, I revealed that back in the early noughties I spent several years working as a professional gardener and garden designer after doing 2 years training at horticultural school. 

Those were happy days and although my passion for gardening is still as strong as it was back then, 20 years on my energy levels have wilted a bit!


Garden Planning

Because I have a little more time to spare because of Lockdown, like many others, I’ve been finding joy in growing a few cut flowers from seed including skin soothing Marigold (Calendula officinalis) a key ingredient in my popular Tropical Sunshine soap bar.

I've also been rearranging the plants in a couple of small areas of the garden and enjoying every moment. And thanks to the glorious weather I’m using any spare time for some well-needed gardening therapy. I recommend it!




I'm delighted with this beautiful tea rose which I inherited with the garden. I nurture this plant like a child, deadheading it regularly during the growing season, feeding, watering and harvesting the petals, before drying them in the Aga for decorating the Creole Rose soap bar.


In very early Spring, I held my breath, battled with the thorns and gave its stems a thorough pruning as they were very overcrowded and crisscrossing. To encourage more flowers, I followed the tried and tested method remembered from my professional gardening days and cut a few of the stems right down to the ground and the rest by about a third.

Although the plant stood at about 2 metres tall when I finished, at the time I thought I might have gone too far as it looked so bare! I needn't have worried as the result is glorious blooms with each individual rose stem longer than ever! Perfect for cutting! Isn't nature amazing?


Tropical planting schemes

Although they can take a bit of work as many are native to warm and humid climates, tropical plants add interest and colour to any garden.

With a bit of TLC and patience, you can create your own tropical oasis in your own outdoor space or balcony.  

I’ve narrowed down a list of potential candidates to a few of my top picks to get you started on growing your tropical garden.



Fatsia Japonica - Japanese aralia

This beautiful tropical evergreen shrub can grow up to 3m tall. It’s a must-have for any tropical garden. It also does well in a container if you have a balcony garden, but will need regular watering.   


With wonderful palmate 8 lobed evergreen leaves and clusters of white flowers in late summer/autumn, Fatsia will thrive in any part of your garden as long as you keep it well watered and sheltered from the wind. I’d also avoid full sun which can bleach those gorgeous leaves. Otherwise, it’s easy to care for, works very well planted up against fences, in the middle of the border, as a specimen plant or planted next to more delicately leaved plants such as bamboos.