The importance of my garden during the pandemic

Katherine Burnetts Garden_Marie Curie

Katherine Burnett_ward sister_Marie CurieKatherine Burnett, a Ward Sister at the Marie Curie Edinburgh Hospice, tells us what her garden means to her.

What got you into gardening?
I’ve always loved seeing pretty gardens and been inspired by my mum and dad who have an amazing garden and they work hard to keep it lovely.

How long have you been gardening?
I’ve only been really interested in gardening over the last few years when I moved into my own house and had a garden to look after. I love getting ideas from other people.

As well as my dad giving me advice through video calls, one of our patients at the hospice, Angela, was a keen gardener and she gave me lots of planting tips which was lovely for both of us.

What have been the biggest challenges for you working through the pandemic?
The challenges I think are working in PPE – with a mask and visor all the time and the barrier it is between patients and you, the restricted visiting and managing that for all as it is so hard for patients and relatives and knowing that the work I do and the contact I have with COVID puts those close to me at risk – although this is the same for all frontline workers in a variety of settings. We still have a job to do – it’s just now we have to wear face masks and eye protection at times and communicate with relatives over the phone more. We’re learning new ways for patient’s to spend time with their loved ones virtually.

What role has your garden played in getting you through the pandemic?
It has just been lovely to be out in the garden throughout the pandemic when the weather has been nice – it’s good for the soul whether working in it or just sitting in it.

How do you switch off after a shift? Did gardening help during the summer?
Being outside is great after a shift to relax – it’s refreshing and lifts your mood even if it’s just having breakfast outside on a nice summers day in the garden after a night shift.

Is there a particular patient that you have cared for, or meaningful moment over the last year that really sticks with you?  
There are too many to choose from – I love getting to know patients and finding out about all the things they enjoy, it’s amazing the wisdom and other things patients can teach you about the day to day of life – it’s important to see people as people not just as ‘patients or relatives’.

What are your tip three tips for budding gardeners or anyone nervous about starting on their garden?
1. Become friends with your local garden centre and don’t be shy to ask the staff for their wisdom about any plants you hope to plant to find out if they will suit your garden. It’s ok to try new things, be adventurous.
2. Try growing vegetables; it’s such a sense of achievement if they work but don’t be put off if they don’t work 1st time round.
3. Think of the wildlife around you, can you create space for birds and bugs to enjoy your garden too?

What’s your proudest gardening achievement?
Having viola’s that flower 10 months of the year and keep coming back each year and growing vegetables – peas, radishes, carrots, potatoes, turnips.

Katherine’s story is published as part of our 2021 Gardens & Health Week – for more click here

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