I’ve learned many things in this last year and whilst I’m sure I don’t need to highlight the individual challenges we all face to some degree or another. The one thing I do hope we can all take away is that when the way we decide to live our everyday life is no longer our own choice, it affects us as human beings, hugely. Be it by disability, chronic pain, pandemic, illness or the invisible barriers of mental health challenges such as crippling anxiety. Freedom to choose is something we all need control over and because of that, these unique circumstances have forced us to be adaptable and proactive. I think perhaps, as humans we all understand each other a little better and can accept that each individual is unique, with unique ways of dealing with any challenges laid at their feet. I think we are more compassionate. I hope we are more empathetic.
But what if coping is something that is just a hairs breadth from giving up, what if some of us are merely surviving.
I am Keily Rutherford and I have served 12 years in the British Army as A Dog Trainer with 2 tours of Iraq and 1 tour of Afghanistan, I worked as care assistant in a residential nursing home and after becoming a Mum became very addicted to gardening. I now run a Gardening business in beautiful Melton Mowbray which is passionate about creating beautiful individual outdoor spaces and mentoring new gardeners into this rewarding career.
With a military background it is safe to say that almost 20 years ago the focus on mental health wasn’t what it is today, and I saw so many soldiers struggling especially on tour after being injured or involved in major incidents. Anxiety is something that has plagued me all my life and actually the Army pushing me outside of my comfort zone meant my confidence grew and grew. Since leaving service I have to remind myself that doing something that scares me every day is good for me, but often I can choose, and I raise my hand to taking the easy route out at times.
As I prepare to study FdSc degree in Horticulture at Nottingham Trent University this year it compels me tell you about the practical everyday strategies I use to motivate myself to do the thing I love and most of them revolve around gardening, my business and my lifestyle. You don’t need heaps of space and if you really are short on enthusiasm. Start with an idea, creativity is the spark that lights the fire, trust me on this! Just some paper and some cheap pencils will be fine (it’s how I started) and make a list of what you’d like your garden to give you. Let’s keep the simple things in life, they’ll be different for everyone but for me it was;
- Being able to watch the birds
- A shady place to drink a cup of tea
- Borders to plant my beautiful flowers
And to keep things interesting for you, I used my front garden which required two cars to be parked, I had a tight budget of £150 and I wanted to recycle as many things as I could. It turned out to be a free activity for my children to help with during lockdown and it was named The Nature Garden. We are one of only a couple of gardens that have not completely resurfaced with tarmac and it is a hot spot of activity with birds, frogs, hedgehogs, bees, butterflies and in the morning when sometimes the day ahead seems a bit long and a bit unmanageable, the peaking of Galanthus nivalis or Helleborus in depths of winter, the presence of a little robin drinking from the pond and the sweet scent of Sarcococca humilis as I clumsily bustle into my front door all give such unplanned joy. We even pop a little table and chairs out now as a lovely addition to our lockdown garden where I can watch the kids scootering and I think a few of the neighbours wish they had more than just tarmac now!
Good luck with your planning, I hope it gives you focus and fills you with hope as the year progresses.
If you feel inspired to create your own little sanctuary and need any plant advice or help you can find me on instagram @kr_gardendesign.