Lockdown in the garden.
6 weeks ago we all probably had a plan as to how we’d use this self-isolated time. On top of our day job or unfortunately instead of our day job we were catapulted into huge change. Adrenalin kicks and in my case the ‘to do list’ of house jobs just kept getting longer! It feels like a lifetime ago when I collected my 3 secondary school children from school THAT afternoon with their carrier bags of books and more books. Nobody wants a viral pandemic but here we are and everyone in their collective and individual way must deal with it. We’ve all already been through change.
I hope that in the future we can look back on this initial 6 week period and quantify the feelings that we had during it. I hope that the next 6 weeks will start to give us reflection of the first 6 weeks and so on and so forth. Everything feels very close and immediate and because we can’t step into any one else’s physical space we are looking at this pandemic through the lens of our personal world. My world has shrunk and I live in the countryside and have space - it feels odd to say that I’m lucky when it comes to social-distancing and not so 'when I’m sitting in commuter traffic at 8am in the morning, who would have thought that needed be considered when signing up to country life but gosh - that was then and this is now. Who’s to say which choices (and I’m lucky enough to have them) weigh in better when all is said and done. Has the 8am commute been put into the history books already?
The facts to hand are that we’re not sitting in commuter traffic, running unnecessary trips to the shops or getting stressed with tight parking spaces. I have to rack my brain to remember when I last put petrol in the car and I live in a car-dependant part of Ireland. It’s a terrible situation but we are all trying to find some good in it and a good starting point could be that we have some time offered to us in place of ‘what was before’. How to use that time and keep body, mind, family unit and food cupboards full of vitality and growth?
I paint, design and print from my home studio. I garden and I like looking after animals. The nurture of animals and nature are a panacea during worrying times. I see this as clear as day with my cocooning parents who lambed their entire sheep herd during the lockdown. Its work mind you, they are tired, but they are producing a healthy flock that becomes part of our food chain and the life cycle that carries forth healthy ewes and lambs. It is blessed work to be communing with nature during these times.
Humans have an affinity towards nature. As a designer and garden enthusiast I advocate the use of natural materials and inks in my home textile range which are kind to our environment. Simply having a cushion or wall hanging in your home with a botanical image printed on it encourages one’s mind to relax. How tempted are we to run our hand down the unique and intricate grain of a wooden table, a candle stick or intricate woven tapestry? Very, we are drawn to the results of nature, nature is life, there is life in naturally produced products. With the tactile experience of the public world being out of bounds it’s never been more important to bring the atheistic healing powers of mother nature into our homes; on our walls, window cills, weaving her way through the fabric of our homes.
I have passionately thrown myself into cultivating vegetables, herbs and fruits. It feels like an important and complete journey that my designs need to take as well as the practical element of producing delicious food for my family - the understanding and deep connection to nature - how it grows, photosynthesis; forms shape, colour, texture and taste; these things are important to me. As a creator it offers a full sensorial experience along with the delicious eating part! I’m currently getting a good family sized crop of spouting broccoli, spinach and kale from last years plants every 3 days and that’s before anything from this year’s sowing starts yielding. It’s not huge but it’s our greens covered for 2 meals a week.
If you like a bit of ‘show and tell’ you can share your gardening successes and failures with a huge community of Instagramers and video makers all loving and doing the same thing - from container gardeners to balcony gardeners to large vegetable plot gardeners; you can always find advice to suit your home space and level of experience. God knows we all need healthy obsessions right now and I reckon this is a good one…and you’ll never reach the end of it - there’s just pots and pots to discover and learn!