The Healing Power of Gardening

Welcome to our member Brigid Gallagher who is taking advantage of writing a blog for Donegal Women in Business Network.


As a member you can too!


Approximately 200 words, telling more than selling and we would love to support all our members through this medium.


Enjoy the read…




My garden and I have undergone a HUGE transformation in 10 short years.


Travelling back in time to September 2010, this little plot was a blank canvas, with long grass and an unkempt aura, crying out for healing.


I could not wait to get dug in, as I laid out lengths of string and canes in a series of intersecting shapes, and planned:


  • Raised beds for shrubs, flowers and bulbs
  • Gravel paths
  • A wildlife pond…

Bit by bit, my dream garden slowly took shape…


My health had been poorly since 2003, when I succumbed to a wide variety of symptoms including:


  • Widespread muscle pain
  • Pain and stiffness in many of my joints
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue…


Sadly, I had to relinquish my former career as a natural medicines therapist and teacher. Indeed, I could not work at all for more than two years. I literally “Stopped the World.”


Although I had no diagnosis for seven long years, I was incredibly proactive, using all the tools in my natural medicines toolbox.


Organic Horticulture

In June 2006, I began to retrain in organic horticulture and entered a new life of “Slow.” The training was part time, a short distance away and I would be in receipt of a small wage. Perfect.


However, the temperature inside the glasshouses and polytunnels where we worked, was akin to a sauna, and the yoga like manoeuvres necessary for planting and picking vegetables, herbs and fruit, were similar to Bikram or hot yoga!


Although my muscles were aching and I was exhausted by the end of each day, the warmth and exercise, as well as the camaraderie of my colleagues was the perfect therapy.


Glenveagh Castle Gardens

In May 2007, I chose to spend a month on work placement among the beautiful gardens of Glenveagh Castle. I was in garden heaven!


During my time there a new horticultural initiative was launched – The Donegal Garden Trail, where a number of Donegal gardening enthusiasts were opening their gardens to the public and raising money for charity.


I put “have my garden included in the Donegal Garden Trail” on my future wish list.


A New Career Path

After completing two years of organic horticulture training, I was accepted as a Heritage in Schools teacher, visiting local schools, where I inspired a terrific team of enthusiastic and energetic children to create organic school gardens.


It was a joy on every level, although I shed a bucket load of tears when I retired from teaching in the spring of 2016.


A Dream Comes True

In July 2012, my dream of being included in the Donegal Garden Trail had come true, and I opened my garden to the public for three summers in all.


I offered visitors a guided tour, and their generous donations wound their way to my favourite local animal charities.


My garden now included three slender silver birch trees, standing amidst a sea of smiling cornflowers, corncockles, poppies, wild campion…


A herb garden provided a home for aromatic rosemary, tall fronds of dill and bronze fennel, silver leaved sage, and chives with purple pom pom flowers. Behind these culinary delights lay my spring flower bed, filled with speckled lungwort, pink perennial geraniums, purple foxgloves, and several species of aquilegia, also known as grannie’s bonnets.


A wildlife pond covered in marginal plants, hid behind yellow evening primrose and majestic acanthus or bear’s breeches. This small sea was surrounded by vibrant candelabra primula, purple astilbe, fiery mimulus and several varieties of iris. Climbing roses and clematis sent out new branches, laden with flowers against the wall to the rear.


A purple elder shaded some crocosmia Lucifer brought back from a holiday in Madeira. Both stood to attention beside some deep purple scabious rescued from a garden centre in a state of decay.


A white washed raised bed, made from reclaimed breeze blocks, was filled with three apple trees, surrounded by an abundance of wild strawberries, sown from seed while I worked at Glenveagh.


Each and every plant in my garden still holds a special memory in my heart.


The Benefits of Gardening
Although my health is still not 100%, gardening has helped me to heal on every level.

  • My body has enjoyed the benefits of fresh air and exercise
  • My emotions have been uplifted
  • My once busy mind has been soothed and stilled
  • My spirit has been revitalised.

As I look back on the last ten years, I am forever thankful to be a caretaker for this small patch of good Earth.


Happy Gardening!

Brigid’s memoir “Watching the Daisies – Life Lessons on the Importance of Slow” is available in both E-book and print format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and all good online book stores.


She blogs at www.watchingthedaisies.com


Facebook: www.facebook.com/watchingthedaisies


Twitter: www.twitter.com/watchingthedai1