This Week’s Guest Blogger is Laura McEwen, a Gardening Enthusiast with a focus on wellbeing

Hello, I’m Laura and I became enthusiastic about gardening two years ago after we moved house. Before that I had a small paved courtyard and so used to tend to my pots, but my larger garden needs a lot more care and attention.

I started to learn a lot more about the positioning of plants, soil types and care (after some unsuccessful planting and wasted money at the garden centre!) as well as growing things from seed which I had never done before. I became more and more enthused to look at each area of my garden and see how I could make my mark on it. At the back there was some old worn out decking that had previously been used as a seating area. We ripped it out and transformed it into a mini allotment and wild flower meadow. It was so satisfying to watch the transformation take place from a bare, muddy patch of earth to an area thriving with flowers, vegetables and wildlife.

During this time, however, I was diagnosed with SLE, better known as Lupus. I knew something had been wrong for years and so although it is never good to be diagnosed with a chronic illness, in some ways it was a relief to have an explanation. Despite this, I was keen as ever to carry on gardening and managed my Lupus by not going out if the sun was too strong, always wearing a hat and getting plenty of rest when possible (with two kids!). I felt determined that the benefits of gardening would outweigh any setbacks.

This worked well for me for a while and I enjoyed experimenting growing new things in the allotment and building up my displays of flowers. Unfortunately, at the start of the year I had a setback I couldn’t ignore: one of my lungs collapsed. In between the ups, downs and hospital appointments I still managed to do some ‘light’ gardening as I did not want to stop. I have since had surgery to hopefully rectify the problem and am now on the road to recovery. In the New Year, I am looking forward to the getting back into the garden more, rejigging my allotment and filling the gaps in my boarders with new varieties of plants, flowers and grasses. I need to stay active to help my recovery and gardening will be the perfect way to do this as long as I ask for help when it comes to the heavy work. Next project: renovating a very old and battered greenhouse!

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