Positively Planning

Therapeutic Gardening with Sophie Lacey - Good Thymes Gardening

Winter is a tough one on our mental health, it’s harder to bring yourself to venture out to get some fresh air when it’s darker and colder, but surrounding yourself in nature has proven to not only improve mood but reduce symptoms of mental illness, stress, anxiety and depression. However, even as someone who needs a daily dose of nature for her own mental health, I struggle sometimes to step over the doormat and long to snuggle up under a blanket with the kids. So, when it’s grim and grey out, what can we be doing inside to get our injection of nature for the day with-out needing our wellies?

When the heavens open and we’re all home, I’ve noticed we have a routine. It usually starts with my partner opening the window by our armchair and putting the kettle on, he knows I’ll be sitting in the chair any minute to soak up the sound of the rain. He knows me well. Once upon a time I would get out a book and light an incense stick. As a tired mum of two young gremlins…I mean boys, at this point we tend to keep everyone happy for 7 minutes by putting on a Studio Ghibli film and there ends my Hygge moment.

It is often such a wasted opportunity as this is an ideal time to take out a notepad and pen and think positively about the year ahead in the garden, because winter is for planning!

What to consider when pondering on your garden for the year ahead?

How do you use/want to use the space?

Ornamental? Functional? Accessible? Sensory? Hosting? Cut Flowers? Edibles? Wildlife?

Express yourself

Gardening is the perfect blend of science and art. Would you decorate your house according to other people’s tastes and styles? Or would you decorate your house as you would like to enjoy and use it? Your garden is an extension of this, be bold, be brave and be true to yourself. Make no apologies, this is your new creative outlet.

Consider the process…

Don’t rush into your projects in spring. Winter is the perfect time to do landscaping and even some planting and sowing. As soon as the weather warms it’s a race to get the garden looking good for BBQ season, but at Good Thymes Gardening we believe the benefits of wellbeing through gardening can be truly gained in the process of caring for and creating your garden and not just the final result.

Right plant right place…

At GTG we fully support garden experiments, we believe often people learn best by throw-ing themselves at it and dabbling in the garden. But, this opportunity over winter gives us time to be more considered and do some research. If you want a particular plant in your garden, certain conditions may need to be planned to accommodate it, and understanding its needs helps us determine where to plant or how to create an environment it will thrive in.

Sustainable and environmentally friendly options

Want more wildlife in the garden? Familiarise yourself with their needs and build this into your garden planning.

Seed shopping

Don’t wait until spring, seed shopping is great over winter when you’re planning your gard-en. This year we hosted our first Seed Swap in Autumn, kindly sponsored by Bay Magazine whereby participants were able to bring along and swap seeds aiding their plans for next year’s garden – all for free!

Good Thymes Gardening offers a planting concept package perfect for planning in winter for spring planting. We can pull your ideas for your garden together and create a beautiful planting scheme, installation and care plan, to help improve your interaction with and use of your outdoor spaces.

Email wellbeing@goodthymesgardening.com to enquire about a planting concept.

GROW: Chilli seeds

Chilli seeds can be sown indoors as long as it’s warm and there is plenty of light; in our house New Year’s Day is becoming traditional chilli sowing day. However, this year I’ve decided to overwinter mine. I love the process of sowing and growing but looking to try something a little different this year for a bumper chilli crop. This winter all of our chillies had a drastic haircut, hard pruned the main stem to around 15cm and kept indoors, giving us a head start on next year.

COOK: Mr GTG’s Winter Warming Chicken and Noodle Soup

Why not add chillies you’ve been growing? This recipe is also a great way to use leftover roast chicken and any vegetables to make a stock.

  • 1 breast of leftover roast chicken
  • (shredded)
  • 100g egg or soba noodles
  • 2 medium heat red chillies
  • 4 spring onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine vinegar
  • or rice wine vinegar


  • Leftover chicken carcass
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 3 medium red chillies


Place the stock ingredients into a large, deep saucepan with enough water to cover. Boil on a medium heat for around 2 hours, or until reduced by half. Strain and set aside.

When you’ve got your stock bubbling away, in a separate pan boil the eggs for 6 minutes. Remove and place immediately place in the fridge where they will cool down completely before adding to the dish.

When the stock is ready to use, boil the noodles according to instructions and strain. Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to a very gentle roiling boil. Carefully place the chicken and noodles into the stock so they don’t mix and are allowed to gently heat up for about 2-3 minutes. Using tongs gently place two portions of noodles in a bowl each, followed by the chicken. Thinly slice the spring onions, 2 red chillies, slice the eggs from the fridge into halves and garnish.

Wellbeing through gardening
M: 01792 677027 W: www.goodthymesgardening.com
E: wellbeing@goodthymesgardening.com





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