Gardening a godsend after coronavirus

Garden centres remaining open this January is a hard-won physical and mental benefit I appreciate more after being in hospital recently.

I went into hospital on 27 December with COVID-19-related low blood oxygen.

After being diagnosed on 16 December, I felt just a bit under weather until the 23rd when I felt headaches, breathlessness and lethargy and realised this was serious.

I had great care from the NHS and am now better. I've been lucky. Since I came out every day has got better and it is so good to get back to doing normal things like playing with kids outside, going down to allotment. Today I even went for a jog today and now I'm off steroids.

In hospital, looking out into the garden was cheering and a sign of better things to come as those around me struggled more than I was with their illnesses.

I must have caught it off my eldest child, who was sent home from secondary school. No-one else in the family has been affected, thankfully.

One thing I'm keen to do is to get back to normal and that includes getting back into gardening. There's not much to do when many people are stuck at home and if the industry is operating as normally as possible that will help everyone get ready for the gardening season, which will be here soon.

Gardening is a godsend even at this time of year. I've pruned hydrangea and trees, and pottered on the plot, bought seeds and reconnected with industry people. I was glad to hear the likes of Adam Wigglesworth, Boyd Douglas-Davies, Matthew Bent and Martin Stewart talking about how important it is to keep their garden centres open, though I respect anyone who wants to close or isolate.

Garden centres being allowed to reopen was a hard-won concession that the industry did not have in March last year. Looking at 2020's Top 50 Most Read stories at, many were about campaigning for garden centres to reopen. In a few weeks time hopefully we'll be back to normal and can look back and remember how lucky most of us were to get through.

Matthew Appleby is editor of Horticulture Week

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