I have always been a fairly philosophical person and always believed that things happen for a reason. In addition, I know that there are always people worse off than myself so I try to look at the positives in every situation. I think it was this philosophy along with a fierce fighting spirit and determination that got me through my darkest decade when I was laid at my lowest with ME.  In the wake of the current coronavirus pandemic this may not be that easy. Our lives as we know them that we have taken for granted certainly for a generation have never been challenged in such a way as they are now. For me however there a lot of parallels to my thirties. I was bedbound for 6 months and housebound for 3 years, unable to go out, work, socialise, play sport etc. At my worst I couldn’t even be in the same room as my 9month son. The reasons for the isolation are different now, but the effects similar. Although this time despite being forced to stay at home most of us do have our health…something that again, until we lose it we are apt to take it for granted. 


The gardens are eerily quiet with no visitors, furloughed staff and only essential watering and maintenance being done. The house is far from it!

Suddenly all 6 of our offspring have come back as it were, to the nest. Only a few weeks before the coronavirus epidemic really broke I was passing one of my son’s bedrooms thinking of those happy chaotic days when they were all small and at school. Their rooms, unused now and possessions largely moved out (well 4 of them anyway) and a poignant sadness at the speed at which time races by and they have all grown up and gone. suddenly, now they are all back and I have extra time to be a Mummy to them. We have time when we can do things together, talk, spend time in the garden, play tennis, eat, cook, play card games etc, all those things that our hectic everyday lives do not allow for. A routine has been established during the day while the 2 youngest are “at school”, my husband and eldest son are working from home, everyone gets their own lunch but for the hour before dinner we have family time where all the kids come off their screens and x boxes, talk to us, help prepare the meal before we eat together around a table and once cleared up a games session follows which most evenings includes teaching the children bridge . Never have I been so glad we have so many children……they are company for each other. An old friend once said to me that “the greatest gift you can give your child is a sibling”…oh so true at the moment. 


On a selfish note, I am really looking forward to being able to have the time to enjoy the gardens for myself this year. I am often asked by visitors if I ever have time to sit and relax in the gardens and the answer is always “No”. I can’t see me being able to sit in the garden, I am not that type of person, however I am determined to spend time amongst the plants and enjoy them for myself this spring. My daughter has declared that she is going to be in charge of the vegetable and fruit garden and my hope is that the boys may even start to show an interest in the gardens…although I won’t hold my breath.

open gardens, garden centre, plant nursery, tearoom in Colchester and EssexThe main beds


Nature and gardening were instrumental in my healing from ME. It has long been proven that spending time outside in nature is relaxing and aids recovery in patients with all sorts of physical and psychological illnesses. Just a short time spent outside on my knees with my hands in the soil, listening to the birds and I have forgotten all the worries of the world. Even if it is only for a short time it is SO refreshing. We shall all require some mental healing over the coming weeks and months so even if you have not been a gardener before, now is the perfect time to start.

Woodland Gardens


This enforced isolation will make people re-evaluate the things that are really important in life…health and family. We will all be forced to take a break from the hectic schedules where there never seem to be enough hours in every day to get everything done, where quality time with our partners is at the bottom of the list of priorities, and there is certainly never time for just spending time appreciating the world we live in. Modern technology means that although physically separated we need not be truly separated from anyone. My sons are taking it in turns so that at least one of them phone their grandparents every day as they are all in strict isolation, it is a challenge for them to teach my parents to use skype! It is fortunate that the clocks are changing and we are going into a time of the year when spirits are generally uplifted by the lighter evenings, longer days, fervent birdsong and reawakening of our gardens reminding us that the passage of time, the seasons and nature march on as normal even if our human lives are temporarily halted. I believe we will all come out of this as better people. We will learn to not take so much for granted. My children have already had to change their eating habits to have what is available rather than what they want every meal, the concept of rationing of pasta is so alien to them; and I believe the youngsters will all be out in the fields harvesting the crops this summer when farmers cannot get eastern European labour to work as normal, work that sadly the British have not wanted to do for a generation. This year they will be only too glad to have a job! Already people are showing community spirit and care and compassion for those more in need in our society and this will only continue.


Stay home and make the most of the time you have to enjoy your garden! Green Island Gardens will still be here when this is over and in the interim we are offering a mail order service for our customers. For further details please visit www.greenislandgardens.co.uk