The latest champion to join the PlantGrow family is Jason Williams from @cloudgardeneruk! When we discovered Jason we knew that he would fit right in as a PlantGrow Champion, as he knows how much gardening can improve your mental health and wellbeing. Jason took some time to explain how he got into gardening and how it got him through lockdown.
“My ‘Cloud Garden’ is an 18th floor balcony garden in Manchester city centre. I started growing seriously over lockdown last year and managed to transform my balcony garden into an edible garden. However, I really struggled to find resources aimed at the unique challenges of growing on such a unique growing space. I decided to start my own YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook and Facebook balcony/patio/terrace gardening group to showcase our unique challenges and gardens.
“Social media brings so much pressure for things to look ‘perfect’. I go out of my way to not photoshop or edit my photos so as not to contribute to the perfect narrative. Through my vlogs and other social media I also showcase my non picture-perfect plants to show others the real realities of gardening and that they aren’t alone when things don’t go to plan.”
The spring scuppered a lot of everyone’s gardening plans this year, but Jason didn’t let that stop him.
“Although last year I focused on self sufficiency, this summer due to poor weather in spring I decided to let my entire garden go wild and allowed my salads to go to seed. The results have been amazing! Last year I barely had any wildlife, but this year I have seen a massive increase in visitors – including bees!
“My balcony garden even has its own fish pond. I use my pond to help me fertilise my garden, so I’m gardening organically as much as possible.
“My current favourite outdoor plant is malabar spinach. It’s a type of climbing spinach that perfectly grows in the intense heat of my balcony garden. I also have 150+ houseplants. My favourite is my OG houseplant, Chad the Monstera.”
During lockdown, Jason really discovered the power of his garden.
“For most, lockdown was difficult. However, for me it was an opportunity to reset, reflect and confront my mental health. My garden has become one of my biggest coping mechanisms, and each day I am reminded of the power and resilience of nature through my garden. It helps me to reassess life’s struggles and it helps to put my anxiety and depression into perspective. I openly discuss my mental health in vlogs on my channel to confront any stigma related to mental health and to try to normalise conversations.
“Hopefully, I can encourage more urban residents to garden in their small spaces to help our urban wildlife but also help to improve people’s mental health.”
Why we’re championing Jason
We’re championing Jason because of his impact on other people who are struggling with their mental health at home. Gardening has been a big part of his life and it helps him put his mental health into perspective, as many others experience.
Our Sales and Marketing Director Ashley added: “We are inspired by Jason for using gardening to give him the ‘get-up and go’ and do something positive every day. We are constantly trying to encourage other people to step out of their comfort zone and try something new, but there is no better way to do that than share an actual example of someone like Jason.”
We’re excited to welcome Jason into the PlantGrow family! Find him across social media to discover how you can turn your balcony into a garden.