My garden escape

When life is challenging, our gardens offer a form of escapism and self-healing too says Geoff Stonebanks.

Driftwood Garden

For some people, gardening can be all about finding a way to make life more bearable. It certainly is a way of escaping in my book! If I’m being honest, assuming I’m in the right mood, I can find watering the garden extremely therapeutic.  It can certainly provide one with a sense of calm as you wander round checking containers.

Garden sanctuary

Up until recently my 96-year old mother lived with us until we, jointly, made the decision for her to move to a local nursing home. Up until that point, Mum too had used the garden as her own form of sanctuary, as she loved to sit out there throughout the summer months and read!  Fortunately, along with her zimmer frame, she could get out independently and friends could join us/her for a drink or chat.

Driftwood Garden
Geoff’s Mum enjoying the garden with friends. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

There is absolutely no question in my mind that during 2020, when Covid hit, the garden was a real escape for all of us during lockdown! How extremely fortunate we all were to have this valuable space to escape to from the house and we were so lucky that year with the weather too.

I am able to completely switch off when I’m gardening. I suppose it helps that I can’t hear the phone (landline) when I’m outside and my mobile phone has a very poor signal in the garden so I’m technically cut off! There are certainly some advantages with this, as I can be completely focussed on what I’m doing and I do enjoy the peace and quiet I can experience out there. Even though the house is a short distance from the main coastal road, traffic noise is at a real minimum in the back garden, which cannot be said if you are in the beach garden at the front.

Peace and quiet

Another real benefit for me is the peace and quiet the garden can provide. My partner loves music and cannot bear silence in the house, so there is always a radio on or a CD playing, which invariably is too loud for me. So, on a dry day, what could be better than to disappear into the garden and potter about or get on with something specific in peace. 

One thing I am eternally grateful for is the sound of nature throughout the garden, front and back. We seem to be blessed with a variety of birds, noticing many robins enjoying life in the garden too and hearing their songs as they go about their business is particularly restful and reassuring.

Driftwood Garden
A robin keeping Geoff company in the garden. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

I am extremely fortunate to have a number of different garden rooms that I have created over the years so I can pick and choose where I can get the most pleasure or peace. Certainly, my favourite last summer was the area adjacent to the new water feature. 

I’d placed an old bench that my late father had made, which used to sit at the front of their home in Oxfordshire. When we sold Mum’s house, I made sure to bring it with us but never really had a home for it until I decided to place it here. I splashed out on a fab lime green, customised cushion and created the perfect spot to sit and contemplate. If the late afternoon sun gets too much, I simply added an umbrella to the mix to deliver perfection.

Driftwood Garden
A favourite place to relax. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

That said, I’m very lucky to have been able to create a number of enjoyable spaces in the garden so can always pick and choose as circumstances dictate.

Let’s hope for a glorious summer so we can all escape into our gardens and truly appreciate the fruits of our labour.


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