Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Gardening is life changing, here's why...

gardening is life changing, here's why, small urban gardener mandy charlton, photographer and blogger

When I was young, I remember living in a house where the garden faced the wrong way, the sun shone on the front garden and the back was paving stones which I can't remember spending any great time doing anything on.  Then in my teenage years, we moved to a house with a back garden which faced the right way and I think this is where my love of flowers came from, begonias were fashionable and something which grew well in our back garden, it seems a shame I think that they have fallen out of fashion in recent years.
Mandy Charlton, gardening is life changing, small urban gardener, photographer and blogger

During my adult life I have fallen in and out of love with the garden, it became somewhere forboding in my last house but probably due to my ailing mental health, when you're trying to just get through each day, it does not leave much time for anything else.  This garden I have now though has been through so many changes, from moving in with a huge rowan tree which blocked out all of the light.  We had the smallest patch of grass you can imagine but I remember the children having a paddling pool one summer, something I'm reminded of when wearing those rose-tinted glasses which looked to the past. 

Being married to someone who gardened professionally I never questioned once any of the plants which came to live in my garden. From cuttings or kind donations and it's only now when I live on my own and I've transformed it myself, that I've come to realise, half of the plants in my garden are just too big for my garden.  There's one particular one, a Japanese anemone which gets on it amazing pink flowers in the summer but no matter how much I cut it back, it grows like a monstrous triffid, consuming all of the light and smothering anything in its path.

Let's not mention that Juniper which lived in the corner of my garden which I pulled out with such vigour that I fell over and concussed myself against the garden wall!  Gardening is an adventure! As Monty Don says, "Gardens are never finished, they are a journey, not a destination".  I love that sentiment and when I'd laid the path and put the slate down, I stood at the bottom of the garden and reminded myself that this was actually a beginning, not an ending.

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I do not do things by halves, I am either passionate about something or I just do not care for it at all.  This is my worst and best quality all in one, I get bored easily and move onto new things and I only have patience when it comes to photographing small people.

In my garden though, I have found so much of myself which was previously lost.  I have found a haven and I have found my soul.  Within weeks of getting outdoors my agoraphobic tendencies started to recede, my night sweats vanished and my skin looked better than it had in years.  I found myself calmer and more zen than I can ever remember. 
gardening is life changing, here's why, mandy charlton, small urban gardener, newcastle photographer

If gardening is good for the soul then the act of just sitting somewhere beautiful is good for your mental health.  I've had more people tell me I've inspired them to get outdoors, to change their gardens or to make their own little haven than I ever have had people tell me that I've inspired them with photography, I may have even been called "Planty Mandy" I don't mind that though, in fact, I quite like it!

I do not know what will happen in my future now, none of us do, we can plan for tomorrow but everything can change in an instant so you may as well enjoy the process, live for each precious moment and appreciate in hindsight that you were making the most special memories on what might seem were the most pedestrian, normal kinds of days.

Since the garden has become a retreat I've noticed that Looby and I are taking more time to sit out in the evenings, the fairy lights twinkle whilst the Chiminea has kept us warm and we've sat under blankets doing nothing special which was actually the most special thing we could have done.  If anything, the garden, the space I have come to call my haven, is the biggest and best thing I have ever done, it has given me time to stop and sit and ruminate, it has offered moments of pure joy and it has fulfilled my ambitions of doing something grand and following a process from beginning to end.

It might be a small urban garden, but to me, it means the whole world and for that, I'll be forever thankful.


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