How nature books can inspire families to discover the mental health benefits of being outdoors

Published on: 02 March 2023

Author Livi Gosling shares how books can inspire a love of nature

All great ideas start with a seed. For me, it was a courgette seed. Courgettes are, without a doubt, my favourite thing to grow! They’re easy, have beautiful flowers, and are such prolific croppers that it’s highly likely you’ll get back all the care that you put in. The joy of growing vegetables was unbeknownst to me until 2020 after I got an allotment in late 2019. My fiancée and I threw ourselves into the task of bringing an abandoned allotment plot back to life and had no idea that the overgrown patch of earth would become our whole world in the months that followed.

Tending to our plot gave us such a positive outlet. Nature helped ease the anxiety, worry, and fear that was catapulted into all our lives in 2020, and I will always be very grateful for that. Nature, like books and reading, offers refuge to anyone and everyone. Both gardening and books offer an avenue to another world. A world full of possibilities. I hope that My First Garden reflects this. Sowing and growing gives us a meditative focus, and ultimately, gives us hope. There is nothing as hopeful as sowing a seed – whether that be of a plant, or an idea.

I trust My First Garden also shows that you don’t need a garden to be a gardener! If you can tend to the earth and sculpt nature in some way, then you are a gardener. Community green spaces, allotments, school gardens and local parks are a great way to get involved with growing. I wholeheartedly encourage little ones to create some native wildflower seed balls and see if they can add some beauty to somewhere unexpected.

Windowsills are the perfect environment for sowing seeds and creating miniature gardenscapes. You might be surprised at the amount of veg you can grow in pots and containers. We grew courgettes in a container on a tiny sunny flat bit of roof that we could reach from our bedroom window. Broad beans adorned our car parking space at our flat and baby beetroot were more than happy in pots precariously balancing on the window ledge.

Books like My First Garden can hopefully encourage families to get out and about in nature. Even if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, just walking in the local park can offer a wonder of things to spot. Like sharing a book together, talking about everything you see is a chance to bond.

With spring fast approaching, I’m itching to get sowing. I love that this time of year is burgeoning with potential. I hope that My First Garden inspires lots of young gardeners to get their fingers in the soil, get covered in compost and get excited about growing – wherever that may be.

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