Gardening is good for you
Gardening is quite simply ‘good for the soul,’ says YOU reader Sheila. Now in her late 70s, she loves getting out in her garden year round, even in the depths of winter. Some medical scientists believe that the restorative power of nature can lower blood pressure, boost immune function and reduce stress. But, like many older people, Sheila, who has arthritis in her knees, has needed to make adjustments to the way she gardens. Here are her tips along with advice from chiropractor Dominic Cheetham (www.sloanesquarechiropractors.com). ‘The garden can be the perfect place for achieving the weekly recommended two and a half hours of moderate activity and muscle-building sessions,’ says Dominic. ‘But do adapt your garden to meet your needs as you get older, and be realistic about your limitations,’ he counsels.
• Sheila has found pots are easier to manage than ground-level beds. Also try raised beds or vertical planting using walls and trellis, adds Dominic.
• Choose light plastic pots rather than terracotta or other heavy materials.
• Water plants with a small, light can, or use a lightweight push-along hose cart, or install a drip feeder for the drier months. Site your water butt as near to the garden door as possible.
• Invest in a potting table to avoid having to bend down so much. Sheila’s daughter is giving her a Foldaway Potting Bench (£59.99, not including delivery, from www.forestgarden.co.uk) this Christmas.
• Use a trolley to wheel heavier pots round the garden, as they will be difficult to lift when full of soil. Ask family/friends to move anything too bulky.
• Lightweight tolls are a boon. Sheila often uses a mini-trowel and fork designed for children. Her latest discovery for taming taller shrubs is Wilkinson Sword Geared Bypass Loppers (in three options from £29.99, from www.wilkinsonsword-tools.co.uk), which have a special mechanism to make cutting much easier, even through thicker stems.
• Burgon & Ball offers a Ratchet Pruner - super-efficient secateurs with ‘gears’ that involve much less effort than usual implements. It also offers a very sharp Shrub Shear, designed to be used single-handed (£19.95 each, from www.burgonandball.com).
• Make sure paths, decking and surfaces are level, well lit and safe, especially during wet, dark and frosty months. It is easy to slip and, in the worst case, break a hip. Wear sensible shoes with non-slip soles.
• Wrap up well and have a warm sustaining drink before you go out in the cold or damp. (Sealskinz makes wonderful waterproof thick socks, gloves and hats, www.sealskinz.com.)
three OF THE BEST HAND CREAMS FOR WINTER
This lotion creates a protective layer on skin and has become a must-use product for people whose hands are exposed to any harsh conditions, including climate and/or chemicals.
Bee Good Honey & Crambe Daily Hand Cream/£14.50 for two 50 ml tubes, www.beegood.co.uk.
This natural product with honey and propolis from British bees is perfect for nature lovers. Our tester loved the delicate scent and ‘spot-on consistency – it’s smoothing and protecting without being too thick.’
Cath Kidston Rose Hand Cream/£6 for a trio of 30 ml tubes, www.cathkidston.com.
This charmingly packaged product, which doesn’t contain sulphates or parabens, won praise from our tester for ‘sinking in well, smelling nice and the fact it’s so pretty you just want to use it.’
FREE PEACE AND JOY!
Here is a lovely offer from health and beauty website, Victoria Health, to get you into the Christmas spirit. Spend over £25 on any product/s and you will receive a free Temple Spa Peace and Joy Mini-candle, worth £6, while stocks last. Call 0800-389 8195 or visit www.victoriahealth.com and use the code VH29. One gift per reader. (Free postage for orders over £25.)
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK; www.anaphylaxis.org.uk
Many traditional Christmas foods contain ingredients, such as nuts and seeds, that can cause serious, even life-threatening reactions. Balloons may affect some people with latex allergy even if they don’t touch them, and evergreen spores from Christmas trees may cause allergic symptoms, too. This informative site has an article titled Take Care This Christmas, highlighting some of the issues.