When gardening can help, when you’re feeling sad

On Monday after school, I visited Maria’s allotment; she has been working on the plot for over a year, since her Dad passed away and she describes it as a ‘place of reflection for the whole family’.

Here’s her story, written by me, my Mum and of course, Maria

Maria’s Mum and Dad, Francesco (Frank to his mates) and Nella are Italian and they have had a plot since the 70’s. Frank loved to feed the family and would dedicate large chuncks of his plot to single crops, like potatoes, so he could distribute them to family members. Maria has fond memories of going to the plot, when she was a child with her brother, Giuseppe and then later, with all their kids. They loved helping out and all of them say they were weaned on “fresh, organic veggies“!

Frank had his own vines and a cracking shed, in which he turned the grapes he’d grown in to wine. He had chickens, a small brazier to cook and brew espresso, lots of fruit trees and bushes and a really productive veg crop. Sadly, Frank died in February 2016 and for a while his plot lay untouched.

June 2016

As the weeds grew and grew over the spring, the other allotment holders wanted to know, what was going to happen and said, that the tenancy was at risk. My Mum and Maria were out one night and Maria will tell you it was the 10th June 2016 ‘cos it’s a really significant date to her. She said to my Mum, that she needed to make some tough decisions, she found it too difficult to visit the allotment, yet didn’t want to give it up.

Maria was still very sad and really missing her Dad; so my Mum said,

“Gardening is a great thing to do when you’re feeling really sad, it’s good for the soul – go tomorrow or you will never go, get down to the allotment, get stuck into clearing the weeds, clear it up, grow some veg and it will help you  feel really connected with your Dad and it will continue his legacy”

and on the very next day, 11th June 2016, that’s just what she did!

And now……..

…..just look at the fantastic job she’s done (with a lot of help from her family too) she’s growing carrots, camomile, sweetcorn, peanuts, melon, tomatoes, broad beans, artichoke, raspberries, figs,  blackcurrants, plums, apples, pears, strawberries, celery and potatoes, lots of potatoes, just like her Dad did!

It’s totally a family effort – Maria’s husband, has since got the gardening bug and really helped with all the hard landscaping, her nephew, Ramon laid a more accessible path and her boys help whenever they can. More importantly, her Mum comes down, sits in the sun and reminisces about the great times she had there, with her husband.

At first, the other allotment holders, were a bit ‘grumpy gardener’ towards her, but then they said “oh, you’re Frank’s daughter” and then they started helping with tips and advice. She showed me round the other plots, via the paths and their produce, chickens, polytunnels and greenhouses were amazing.

I love allotments, they just make me feel all happy inside. I like how all the plots are different, how gardeners use different techniques and grow different crops; like how some dedicate their whole plots to flowers, like dahlias for example.

It’s a great set up, her Dad’s shed is like a dream to me and Maria has made herself right at home and even makes bacon butties there sometimes!

Check out these vines, they are awesome.

And here’s Maria’s Mum, enjoying the sun, the views across the moors and the robins that visit the plot.

Maria has some great plans for the future, including a small pond, which I hope to help her build. Continue to enjoy your allotment Maria, you have done such a great job and your Dad would be really proud of you x

About greenfingeredgeorge

RHS Young Ambassador Gardening Geek and Nature Nerd!
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22 Responses to When gardening can help, when you’re feeling sad

  1. gardeningontheedgeblog says:

    Lovely post George… Gardening is good for the soul.. It connects us to the things that money can’t buy… Well Done Maria.


  2. Amanda Maddocks says:

    Beauty creates beauty and if those leafy greens bring some sunshine on those dark days then your dad has done his job.Well done Maria…and you too george, inspirational as ever xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barbara Shockledge says:

    That’s so lovely Maria. Well done to you and your family. Yes, your dad would be very proud of you. You will reap the rewards in many different ways xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks Grandma, her plot is full of fruit and veg and that’s also great when Maria comes to harvest, share and cook it – hoping to help her in the summer for a few days here and there
      Can’t wait to help you with your garden too
      George x


  4. rachelrummun says:

    Well George you’ve made me spills tears into my morning cuppa! Maria’s dad would be very proud, it’s a beautiful plot and she’s worked so hard to comtinue his legacy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • crying in your cornflakes eh Rachel ! My mum helped to write it and she even cried when she read it back. That’s the thing if you have memories as a child of being in a garden/allotment with a family member it stays with you forever. I’m hoping to help Maria over the summer for a day here and there so I’ll post updates.
      Have you still got your allotment? I’d like to see it sometime if that’s ok?


  5. Claire Hassall says:

    Amazing allotment lots of interesting things especially like the idea of growing peanuts, might have to look into that one for my plot yummy fresh peanuts xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bluepony1 says:

    can’t see to type throughthe tears…. Well written and a lovely true story. from Sarah Hunter’s Crazy Aunty Rozie in Cornwall xxx


    • hello Sarah’s crazy aunty Rozie, we’ve had such a huge response about this blog – I think lots of people feel the same, about how gardening can remind them about someone they have lost too
      from George


  7. Heartwarming post George, a great read that perfectly shows the extraordinary healing power of gardening and nature.


    • thanks Lucy, it’s true, gardening and nature makes you feel happy inside and I know your daughter will really benefit from being outside once she feels fit enough. Sending her big tree hugs from George


  8. Richard Butler says:

    Just like to say , what a wonderful post George, you have great empathy, what an amazing allotment.


    • Thanks for your comment Richard, yes Maria’s allotment is looking great, she’s worked so hard and as I said her Dad would be so proud of her. I love allotments as they are peaceful and calming. Perfect if like me you’re stressed with exams or for Maria who is sad


  9. Joan says:

    This is so lovely just what she needed to hear, so happy for the family. Well being is so important.


  10. Maria Reda-Jones says:

    Thank you to everyone for your kind and thoughtful comments. It’s always good to see George, full of enthusiasm and good ideas . Looking forward to the here and there days over the summer…and you to Ali Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Celebrating summer with my 100th blog | Green Fingered George

  12. Joan Mycroft says:

    This is so good to read, makes the soul happy, so right about gardening, I always feel happiness surrounded by flowers, fields, veg., and all green spaces. Well done for keeping Marie going. I am sure the more people that get out there will find it valuable to the mind.


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