Kids gone back to school? Need a new hobby? Want to up your game in the garden? Whether you want to design your own garden, grow your own, learn beekeeping or understand flower photography - here are ten reasons why this winter is the perfect time to take a gardening course.
1. The world is in a funny place right now - we're in a global recession, many people have lost jobs, and there's uncertainty in many of our lives. Interestingly, during a recession is actually one of the best times to study or learn a new skill. According to the multi-millionaire entrepreneur and 'Dragon', James Caan: "If you've got a good idea today, I would encourage you to do it... I think you should go for it". Whether you want to study horticulture with a view to building a business, or simply take a gardening course just for fun, there's no time like the present.
2. Traditionally winter is a time for planning for gardeners. They get down all their gardening books from the bookshelves, a pour over planting plans and bulb catalogues to get the perfect designs for the following year. If you take your garden design course now, you'll be in a perfect position to have your dream garden by next year.
3. Winter is the time when the garden goes to bed. But it's also the perfect time to do re-construction work (i.e. redesign the hard landscaping of your garden), as you won't disturb too many fauna and flora.
4. Recent studies have found that gardening makes you feel good. Even the government is supporting people to learn new gardening skills.
5. Getting back to the land and working with our basic needs for nurturing our own food, and creating a beautiful home and garden, can only be good in difficult times.
6. You don't have to spend much to create a beautiful garden. Plants by their very nature can be divided, are passed along in communities, seeds collected and even hard furnishings can be made or reclaimed.
7. Growing your own veg is enjoyable and can save you money - it can also help you get your five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables.
8. Gardening is good for you! Weight-bearing activities such as digging and lifting can build muscle, and aerobic activities such as raking, mowing and hoeing can burn calories. According to the National Gardening Association, 180-pound person will use 202 calories during 30 minutes of digging, spading and tilling.* Even 30 minutes of cutting the grass on a riding mower burns 101 calories.
9. An increasing underground movement of celebrities are admitting that gardening is their guilty pleasure and have spent time studying horticulture (a strange number of musicians and actors!). Kim Wilde, Russell Brand, Alex James, Joanna Lumley, Bill Nighy, Helen Mirrem, Gwyneth Paltrow all list gardening as a favourite pastime.
10. It's great escapism to learn or improve a new skill, especially at new year, and gives you the perfect excuse to escape from normality for a while. You can still be at home studying a MyGardenSchool online gardening course, yet away from the everyday humdrum. "Er, sorry kids, but I've got a garden design lecture to listen to for the next 30 minutes."