Top gardening influencer Ellen Mary reveals how families
can reconnect with nature in their own garden. By Hannah Stephenson.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own garden, there’s lots of ways you
and your family could enjoy it – and connect with nature and benefit
from a wellbeing boost in the process.

With social distancing at the height of the agenda at present, you might
need to make sure you keep a safe distance from neighbours, so be
sensible and follow the all-important guidelines. But gardens can
bolster wellbeing for both children and adults, says gardening writer,
presenter and horticultural influencer Ellen Mary.

Mary, who specialises in gardening for wellbeing, has just launched a 30
Moments In Nature challenge on her website (,
featuring activities to help people reconnect with nature.

“We all lead such busy lives, with everyday stresses of work, school and
digital life, that ‘nature deficit disorder’ and even ‘plant blindness’
has become all too real,” she says.

“There is nature everywhere, and spotting it, even in the most unlikely
places, can give a much better understanding of how we are all connected

  • to nature, not our phones.”

Here, Mary offers top tips on how you and your children can reconnect
with nature in your own garden…

  1. Garden tracing

This is an activity many of us took part in at school as a child and
it’s still really good fun, no matter what age we are. Children can
learn about plants and trees in their garden, identify them and be
outside away from computers and mobile phones. Studies have shown that
walking among trees reduces levels of cortisol and can even boost the
immune system.

Activity: Take a walk in your garden with some paper and a crayon. Trace
the bark of a tree, if you have one, and a fallen leaf to stick on the
paper by your tracing. Look closely at the tree, identify it, touch the
bark and the leaves. Back inside, put it on your fridge. Each time you
look at your tracing, remember how you felt in the garden, the smells
and the air on your face.

  1. Walk barefoot

Walking barefoot brings us into direct contact with the planet and
allows us to absorb the natural energy the earth provides. This is known
as ‘earthing’ and it’s said to have a host of benefits. Great on a warm
morning in the garden.

Activity: Get your socks off! Put your shoes aside. Feel liberated by
walking outside on the lawn or a soft outdoor surface with bare feet.
Feel the natural negative charge from the earth being absorbed through
the soles of your feet. Allow it to happen, accept it. Breathe deeply
and relax.

  1. Spot a star constellation

When we are busy looking down at phones and laptops, it’s easy to forget
to look up. By looking up at the night sky not only is it a hub of
fascination and awe but it’s also a relaxing activity before bedtime.
Finding shapes in the moon and trying to spot star constellations can be
a lovely way to switch off before a good night’s sleep.

Activity: Did you ever stare at the stars as a child and wonder what
they are? Glistening in the sky, light years away. It’s really good fun
identifying star constellations but if you can’t work out where Orion
is, make your own shapes in the sky like a dot-to-dot drawing.

  1. Sow some seeds

Sowing seeds is now only a great way to grow your own food, but also for
children to understand where their food comes from. Great seeds to try
with children are sunflowers, nasturtiums and microgreens, which grow
really quickly.

Activity: Be mindful and sow some seeds. Before you do, feel the seeds
in your hand. What is the texture, shape, size? Look close at the detail

  • does each seed differ? Smell them and if they are edible, taste them.
    Be marvelled at the way those tiny seeds become big fruits, vegetables
    or flowers.
  1. See life beneath

Picking up a large stone from your garden, your children will be able to
marvel at the life beneath. They’ll be fascinated by the woodlice, ants,
worms and beetles. We forget that inner child as we grow up and life
takes over.

Activity: Revisit those memorable moments with your children, lifting a
stone in your garden and encouraging the children to stay inquisitive
and keep looking.