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Ruth Williams
My Coronavirus Garden





My garden has always been important to me a sanctuary away from the outside world, but until I was labelled as ‘extremely vulnerable’ and started shielding during the coronavirus lockdown I didn’t realise just how important.

I have no idea what proportion of UK households have a garden, nor what proportion of those ask to shield have one, but I know that without mine, I would not have been able to truly shield for the first twelve weeks, let alone longer. It has made me realise how very much we live in a land of those who ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’ got a garden.

During the lockdown my garden has kept me active and motivated. The challenge of clearing and burning the five year old wood pile to give me a place for that long wanted veggie patch. My outside space gave me the opportunity to breathe the new found fresh air and hear the birds sing their hearts out. To notice the changing plants, developing tadpoles and lengthening days. All indicating that time was passing by, however slowly it might seem. A place to nurture seed, to seedlings, then into mature plants and inevitably soon fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables. A place to feel safe, to have conversations with my partner, my pets, the flowers, the trees, the birds, the bees. I miss those evenings with friends, those unexpected conversations with strangers and the facial acknowledgement of people walking by.

In my garden when really needed, I have been known to talk to the sky in order to way lay that feeling of things overwhelming me, that I have when closed inside. A haven from the daily briefings, FaceTime and zoom meetings when there is little new for anyone to say. A place to hear the gradual returning of a near normal life, distant traffic and increasing frequency of trains. The occasional airplane, greeted with excitement by my neighbours children. A place to make peace when tempers fray, when too long shut inside together. A place to exercise, despite the obstacles, to dig, to mow, to water and to grow in. To make unexpected discoveries, the toad under the broken plant pot, the four leaf clover, my first ever, hopefully it will bring good luck, or maybe my garden is my good luck?

The weather has been unbelievably warm and dry. During lockdown the days have begin to merge into one. We’ve had two, no now three sunny hot bank holidays, when does that ever happen? Winter will not be so appealing, I dread a second wave in late Autumn or Winter. Even then though, my garden will be a priceless retreat from being captive inside. I feel guilty when I talk to friends who are shielding alone, with no or minimal outside space. I feel guilty that my partner has to shield because of me and can’t go back to life as it was or now is. I feel guilty when I hear the horrendous daily experiences of those who care for me. I know I couldn’t have truly shielded for so long without this precious space, it’s not big or luxurious, certainly not manicured or ready for Chelsea but it has made the world of difference to me during this long, sad and very draining time.

I look over our gate and I watch the forbidden world outside.


Selection of images from Ruth's garden with captions.