Blue Monday; Plants and gardens make you happy

By Andy McIndoe

The third Monday in January is supposed to be one of the most depressing days of the year; you know a day when you hate getting up, going to work and really wonder what the daily grind is all about. That is of course if you are not a gardener, florist or are somehow involved in the horticultural world. Those of us that work in the garden world are supposed to be the happiest workers; and therefore least affected by ‘Blue Monday’.

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The weather in January is never that appealing in the UK if you work outdoors, except of course on those bright crisp days, when even subdued colours sparkle. The early part of January here in the South of England has been mild, so late winter and early spring flowers have been a real fillip after the confinement of the festive season. In the past week temperatures have dropped and snow has covered the landscape in a sparkling blanket; very beautiful, but not quite gardening weather. However gardeners know that there is always something to look forward to. We are always planning for the next season and spring is just around the corner. We are on the brink of a new gardening year, so no matter how bad last year was, we plan for this one to be better, much better.

Chionodoxa forbesii

Maybe this induces an air of optimism in us gardeners and garden lovers. So even if you don’t actually work in gardening, you just need to look around you, for green shoots and early flowers, to get that essential injection of happiness that we all need on what appear to be drab days? Personally when I’m in the heart of the city, perhaps on a busy railway station I’ve only got to go and stand by a flower stall, take in the colours and slowly inhale the damp fragrance hanging on the cool air to feel invigorated. Here in the country the sight of the first daffodil bud opening way ahead of schedule fills me with excitement. Driving to work I noticed the first hazel catkins hanging on the hedgerow. Close examination of the purple-leaved plum in my garden, on a freezing day last weekend, revealed swelling buds and the first signs that the delicate pink petals could burst forth at any moment.

Crocus tomasinianusCrocus tommasinianus in grass

I have been involved in the world of gardening all of my life and I have worked in the industry since I left university thirty five years ago. I think it is a misconception to consider that gardening, horticulture, floristry, landscaping, design or any other branch of the industry is a soft option. All have their risks, stresses, deadlines, targets, successes and failures like any other job. However they do somehow have this magical factor: the wonder of plants in all their forms which have the power to make us feel good in so many ways. The colour of flowers and foliage has an impact on how we feel; fragrance and texture are powerful influences upon well-being. The taste of fresh fruit and vegetables and the satisfaction of growing them never lose their appeal. The dependence of cultivated plants on our input gives us purpose, and the power of Mother Nature leaves us in awe of her resilience.

Iris 'Katherine hodgkins'

In essence things that grow, and the aesthetic beauty of gardens, make us feel good. The promise of productivity and the need to plan for the future gives us purpose. Gardening is not an exact science; it is a voyage of discovery. Those looking for an instruction manual to follow to the letter find the journey through the garden more challenging. The adventurers often find it more rewarding and exciting. Gardening is an adventure; perhaps another reason why gardeners have no time for ‘Blue Monday’.

So those are my thoughts, obviously based on my experience here in Britain as part of what we regard as a ‘Nation of Gardeners’. Is it the same wherever you are? Are gardeners, florists and anyone connected with horticulture the happiest? Would love to know what makes you happy about gardening and plants whether you work in the world of horticulture or not – do tell us and spread the word.

Rosa 'Grace' 12

Suffering the effects of Blue Monday?

“Just remember, in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow, lays the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes The Rose”

Spread the word............

Rosa Mermaid'The RHS is launching a social media campaign on the most miserable day of the year, ‘Blue Monday’ 21 January 2013, to cheer up Britain and share the joys of horticultural careers. Recent research by City & Guild's found Gardeners and Florists to be the happiest workers in the UK, so why not join the debate on Facebook or Twitter @The_RHS using #OfficeVHortiCulture and see who's happiest going into work on the most miserable day of the year. They’ll be sharing their favourite things about horticultural jobs, great pictures and giving people advice about

Andy McIndoe

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