Gardening guru Lynda Hallinan advocates for a relaxed approach

Thrive‘s resident green-fingered guru Lynda Hallinan is here to reassure you that whatever your gardening style, not one of us tillers of the soil is perfect, so take the pressure off and turn your mind to the super-satisfying and simple task of sowing seeds.

Spring is a siren call for those of us with green fingers to Get On With It! To prepare, plant, pull, prune, pick, pollinate, propagate, build, drill, force, fork, mound, mulch, rake, stake, sow, soak and repeat. But how tiring – and tiresome – it is to always focus on practical tasks.

So let me begin by letting you all in on a wee secret: but my bulbs still bloomed, the bees still tickled the blossoms, the ‘Scarlet Runners’ climbed skyward, perennial herbs grew anew, self-sown lettuces spawned, beneficial insects still outnumbered the bad guys and my soil relished its seasonal reprieve. And as I hobbled around as an inconstant gardener, I finally learned to take things more slowly.

It’s a misconception that we gardeners are all naturally meditative, nurturing souls. Gardeners are like parents: none of us is perfect. There are the authoritarians who phone me up on the radio to find out how to kill this and conquer that; the disciplinarians who clip, trim, snip and strim; the helicopter hoverers who fret and fuss over every nibbled leaf; the permissive permaculturists; and the bohemian free-rangers who consider even convolvulus to be a companion plant.

Gardeners are like parents, but if homeschooling my kids during the Covid-19 lockdown taught me anything, it’s that gardens are not like children. Gardens don’t talk back, beg for more screen time, squabble incessantly with their siblings or demand every flavour of fertiliser other than what Mum has made for dinner.

At Level 4, my maternal instinct rapidly evaporated (along with every bottle of wine in the house) but I reclaimed some sanity and solace through the simple act of sowing salad seeds – bok choy, coriander, Italian parsley, mesclun and rocket – in large pots on our deck. They flourished.

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