A bestselling author who struggled with severe anxiety for more than 20 years is launching a national ‘let’s grow together’ campaign
Nicola Bird, 48, from Chobham, Surrey, believes The Floral Project (Thefloralproject.co.uk) will help parents encourage their children to spend less time on their devices and more time in the garden, planting and growing flowers.
The aim is that the bunches of blooms will then be gifted to older people in local neighbourhoods, once it is socially safe to do so, or simply enjoyed in the home.
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Nicola is the founder of A Little Peace of Mind (https://alittlepeaceofmind.co.uk/), through which she shares her revolutionary approach to helping people with anxiety, stress and panic attacks. She is also the author of Hay House’s best-selling book of the same name.
The mother-of-three admits that thanks to finding an outlet in the garden, she is enjoying being at home during lockdown – a situation that, in the past, she would have found ‘absolutely terrifying’.
Nicola said: ‘The aim of The Floral Project is to give a sense of purpose and a sense of hope for the future right now.
‘There is that beautiful Audrey Hepburn quote that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
‘It is a brilliant distraction, it is incredibly therapeutic, it keeps you moving, you get quite absorbed in it and you feel like you’re giving something back to the community when you grow them for others.’
HOW THE PROJECT BEGAN
Nicola came up with the concept for the project after discovering how environmentally damaging shop-bought cut-flowers can be, so she looked into alternatives – such as growing them herself.
Nicola’s children – Tilly, 16, Ned, 14, and Bea, 12 – are also involved in the project, helping to sow and cultivate the seeds. Tilly is helping behind the scenes, on the website and social media, Ned is taking photos of the project and Bea is getting her hands dirty in the soil. Her husband Matt, 49, has also been involved, helping Nicola make the raised flower beds.
But after starting, Nicola – who began her working life in a care home for the elderly – realised she was growing too many – so she decided to donate the flowers to her local Age Concern – and The Floral Project was born.
She said: ‘There are many wonderful organisations in local communities that provide befrienders to those who are housebound or vulnerable, but after that visit is over, imagine if that volunteer could leave behind a simple vase of flowers to remind that person that they are loved and thought about all week long?’
Nicola has now opened the project to 30 founding members, and will be launching it nationwide – vowing to grow to give, one flower at a time.
Through social media – including Facebook www.facebook.com/groups/floralproject and Instagram www.instagram.com/the.floral.project – Nicola will be offering step-by-step guides on how to grow bee-friendly blooms, suitable for novices.
Those who want to take part can buy a starter pack for £30, which includes a variety of 22 flower and foliage seeds – including Centaurea, Euphorbia, Gypsophila, Snapdragon and Zinnia.
Nicola says “It doesn’t matter if you have a huge garden or just a couple of meters of ground you can turn into a simple flower bed – we have members who are growing in pots on their patios. It also doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced gardener or never planted a seed before in your life. I’m by no means an expert – we’re all learning and growing together.”
Or they can simply order their own products from their local garden centres and join her online community to share stories, tips and pictures.
HOW TO COPE WITH ANXIETY IN LOCKDOWN
1. Slow down to the speed of life: Instead of rushing around trying to create things to do to fill our time so that we never have to sit still, try the reverse. Experiment with slowing down to the speed of life as it currently is – you can’t do anything else when you’re growing flowers.
2. Get present. When we’re anxious it’s often because we’re ‘what-iffing’ about the future. We think we’re just figuring out how things will work out, when in fact all we’re doing is taking ourselves away from this moment. Stop it!
3. Misunderstanding where anxiety comes from. Nowhere have I seen worry and stress listed as a symptom of coronavirus. Those feelings always and only come from our thinking – and thinking changes all the time. So if you don’t like how you’re feeling, don’t worry, it will change in a minute.
4. Stop watching the news on a loop! One of the most helpful things I did at the start of the pandemic was check in with a reputable news source once a day then ignored my social media and new sites and programs for the rest of the day.
5. Realise there’s no need to discuss how anxious you are feeling. When we feel anxious, our thinking becomes predictably distorted and negative – it’s a little like being drunk – you simply can’t think straight. Talking about it makes it seem more real and we buy into our thoughts as if they are facts. The best advice I have when you feel anxious is to ignore yourself for a while, engage fully with what’s in front of you, and before you know it, you’ll notice it has disappeared all on its own.Enjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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