Bridge of Earn woman Fiona Murphy has discovered the wellbeing benefits of gardening to help with her severe anxiety and depression.
She’s found a safe haven behind the walls of a Perth garden.
She tells us about the benefits it’s brought and why she’s got involved with an upcoming festival so others can seek the support she’s found so beneficial.
Fiona says living with her severe anxiety and depression leaves her exhausted and debilitated.
“It’s the worst feeling ever – I just want it to go away, for the pain to end.
‘Stay busy if you want to get better’
“I’ve had months when I rarely left the house and know how hard it can be.
“But I’ve also learnt that you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and stay busy, if you want to get better.
“Otherwise, it’s too easy to spiral and your mood drops even further.
She visits the PKAVS Walled Garden in Perth regularly after being referred to PKAVS Health and Wellbeing Hub in lockdown.
As well as enjoying the garden, she enjoys art activities and helps out in the café there too.
“The Walled Garden gives some structure to my week, a reason to get up and get going with the day.
Garden is ‘safe haven’
“When you walk in, it’s like a safe haven. The gardens are beautiful and the walls around them feel like protective arms.
“I instantly relax when I go in and all the staff are supportive and friendly.
“When you’re struggling, you don’t need a constant reminder.
“For me, it’s about having a change of scenery, pushing myself and keeping busy.
“I’ve also made good friends here, and there are people to talk to if you feel particularly low.”
“The gardens are just beautiful, especially in the better weather. You don’t have to be an expert.
“It’s just about being outside, getting stuck into a task or sitting out at lunchtime, taking a stroll and learning about the different plants and flowers.
“Because I’m quite a creative person, we sometimes go out and draw flowers or do some creative writing within the outdoor space.
“Also, most of the fruit and vegetables grown are used in the kitchen to sell in the café, so it’s lovely learning about them.”
Fiona has been involved in the planning and delivery of Perth and Kinross Mental Health and Wellbeing Festival.
The free festival will take place at Perth Concert Hall on August 6 and 7, organised by local charity Trauma Healing Together.
The PKAVS Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub team will also be there to highlight the therapeutic benefits of gardening and nature.
They’ll also host a gardening workshop on planting and growing.
Laura Mutch, Recovery and Development Officer (Youth Services), says: “Taking part in gardening generates real benefits for our clients.
“It’s sociable yet relaxing and has a positive effect on their outlook.
Gardening as therapy
“The physical aspect is also good – getting stuck into something for even a short while can help with stress and anxiety while boosting confidence and self-esteem when they achieve something.
“Caring for something and nurturing it can also help clients care more about themselves.
“The difference it can make is quite remarkable.”