January Blues? New statistics show a spot of gardening could cheer you up says the RHS

Monday 20 January 2014

As new stats show that gardening makes you happy, the RHS films career changing gardeners and asks people to have a Green (not Blue) Monday

A new survey* from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has shown that Brits truly are a nation of gardeners with 77% saying they garden and 82% saying it makes them feel happier. The results also revealed some surprising facts about people’s career choices with a whopping 70% saying that given the choice, they would prefer to spend their working day in a garden with just 9% opting for an office and 21% undecided.

Guy Barter, RHS Chief Advisor, says: “Coming in January, traditionally thought of as the most depressing month of the year when job hunting is at its highest, these stats might prompt a few to think about their career direction.”

In light of this the RHS has created a series of short films, asking people who chose to ditch the desk and follow their dream of spending their working life in horticulture, why they did it and what makes them love their jobs in January. The film series – titled Green Mondays – can be viewed here at the RHS youtube channel http://bit.ly/1b1PJcu and includes a former bank manager, TV costume designer, paralegal, chef, finance worker and more, all of whom couldn’t be happier in their horticultural careers. (Contributor details and instructions on how to embed the videos can be found below, please tweet with the hashtag #GreenMonday.)

The survey of over 2000 adults also found that even in the winter months, gardening can still be a great way to beat the January blues and get fit. Just 18% of those surveyed said they didn’t like gardening in winter months and 80% citied, “getting outside and being active” as a reason they loved gardening with “the satisfaction of growing something” coming in second with 72%.

Young people aged 16-24 and Londoners came out top of the happiness index with 88% of both groups saying gardening made them happier. Men and women also had rather different preferences with double the number of men saying they were happiest in the garden when mowing the lawn compared to women, who preferred planting and weeding.

Guy Barter, RHS Chief Advisor, continues: “With these stats showing that most people feel happy gardening, the RHS would love to encourage more people to try getting outside to garden away those winter blues. Obviously January isn’t a typical time you’d think about gardening, but there’s lots you can do to start getting your plot in shape for spring like digging up beds and lugging about pots, all of which are also great for releasing endorphins – and cheaper than the gym! Around 35% of the gardening respondents to the survey said that they don’t get outside doing jobs during the winter and I’d really recommend they give it a go. If gardening makes them happier, what better time than now to help cheer them up.

“I hope that these results and the videos of gardening career changers will encourage more people to get outside and enjoy their gardens in January and perhaps even make a few more office workers think again about careers in horticulture.”

RHS Chief Advisor Guy Barter suggest a few gardening jobs to get you, and your garden, into shape in January

Flex those muscles moving your plants
Spring is a good time to start moving any plants in pots you’ve been keeping in the greenhouse back outdoors and into the sun – at least during the daytime – to get them used to colder temperatures again. Say goodbye to the dumbbells and give yourself a workout heaving your pot about instead, just remember to bend at the knees not the waist.

Work up a sweat digging
Digging is probably the best way to get a work out in the garden and luckily for those with a few Christmas pounds to shed, there’s lots of digging to be done in January. Prepare your ground for sowing by digging in bulky organic matter like manure or leaf mould. This will improve drainage and make sure your soil is packed with nutrients ready for sowing with all those healthy veggies.

Stay limber by pruning
Forget chanting sutras, roll up your Yoga mat and keep yourself flexible instead by pruning ornamental vines. Creepers like wisteria, ivy and Virginia creeper often grow high up and need regular pruning to stop them taking over spaces so invest in a good pair of secateurs or loppers and stretch, twist and bend as you get your plants and yourself into shape.

Replace resistance training with mowing
Most lawns in spring won’t have grown enough to need machine mowing. Instead, get yourself a hand mower, keeping the settings high to avoid cutting the grass to short, and push it round the garden yourself. The faster you go, the more calories you’ll burn. Trimming the edges of your lawns is good for those who want to bend and stretch as well.

Make a cold frame instead of curls
Train your brain and your muscles by making your own cold frame. It’s much cheaper than buying one new, you’ll need some lengths of wood and a bit of acrylic sheeting. Sawing the wood up to the right lengths yourself will give your biceps a good work out and figuring out all the measurement will keep your brain sharp.

Raking to the rhythm
Moss grows vigorously in the damp cool conditions of winter and can leave your pathways slippery and your lawn overgrown. Forget the aerobics, get your headphones on and rake to the rhythm – it’s a great way to replace your aerobics class.

Power walk round a garden to get some ideas
January is a great time to plan your garden and those in need of a few ideas could do less than take a brisk walk round a public garden. Jump off the step trainer and power walk your way to inspiration around the 240 acres of RHS Garden Wisley instead.

Mix it up by turning your compost
Alternating between different kinds of exercise is great for the fitness as any advocate of circuit training will tell you. Digging out your compost bin, mixing up the organic matter and then shovelling it all back in again will make sure your compost rots evenly as well as using lots of different muscle groups.



Notes to editors

For more information or to feature films on your website, please contact Stephanie Shepherd in the RHS Press Office on 0207 821 3042 or email stephanieshepherd@rhs.org.uk  or Hayley Monckton on 020 7821 3045 or 07764787037 or email hayleymonckton@rhs.org.uk

*Censuswide was commissioned by the RHS to conduct the survey of 2053 UK adults in January 2014.

• There were 2,053 respondents to the survey
• 77% of those questioned garden
• 82% said gardening made them happier
• When asked why they enjoyed gardening:
o Getting outside and being active : 79.50%
o Satisfaction of growing something: 71.60%
o Sense of achievement: 62.40%
o Creating something beautiful: 51.90%
o Growing food you will eat: 41.50%
o Being creative: 37.00%
o Learning all the time: 24.50%
o Other 2.80%
• When asked which gardening job makes you happiest:
o Planting 70.80%
o Pruning 41.60%
o Weeding 33.50%
o Mowing 29.60%
o Digging 17.10%
o Grafting 7.60%
o Mulching 7.10%
o Other 4.70%
• 47% said gardening in the winter months made them happy, 35% said they didn’t garden over winter months, 18% said it didn’t make them happy
• 70% would prefer to spend their working day in a garden, 21% had no preference, 9% preferred an office
• 75% were unsurprised to hear that gardeners were happiest in their careers, 25% were surprised

‘Green Monday’ films – contributors

Lucie Tait – Team Leader Herbaceous at RHS Garden Wisley
Before she became a gardener Lucie trained as a costume designer and worked on a number of high profile TV shows including Foyle’s War, at the English National Opera and designing wedding dresses. She is now looks after 20 acres herbaceous planting at RHS flagship garden Wisley and has a team of six working under her.

Lucie says, “What I’m able to bring to horticulture from my career as a costume designer is a love of colour, form and shape – all that is intrinsic in garden design and is something I’m very passionate about sharing with others. I absolutely love being a gardener, there’s nothing more life affirming, it’s brilliant.”

Sarah Curtis – Trials Manager at Thompson & Morgan
Sarah spent eight years working as a paralegal before going back to university to study a BSC in Horticulture, which took her to South Africa amongst other places. She is now a trials manager at Thompson & Morgan, a job that mixes practical horticulture with business, and where the managerial, commercial and project managing skills she has from the legal industry are invaluable.

Sarah says, “I wanted a new challenge and to do something scientific but without a doubt the legal industry has helped me immensely in this job. There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between working with lawyers and Mother Nature, they’re both equally demanding, but out of choice I’d sooner deal with Mother Nature.”

Gerry Moore – Horticulturist, Orchards at RHS Garden Wisley
Gerry Moore spent 30 years working in banking, finishing up as a bank manager before he decided it was time for a change. He went to night school and did more training with the RHS, landing his dream job in the sprawling orchards at RHS Garden Wisley. He particularly enjoys the education aspects of the role and spends a lot of time teaching new students.

Gerry says, “Why I enjoy horticulture here is that there are great opportunities. I’m in my dream job now working in the orchard but there are huge opportunities in horticulture for advancement. Changing from the bank was the best think I ever did, gardening is a brilliant job and wish I had done it earlier.”

Mario De Pace – Horticulturist, Vegetable Garden at RHS Garden Wisley
Mario’s two great passions in life have always been food and growing things. After working as a chef for 27 years and owning his own restaurant he gave it all up to become a vegetable gardener and has never been happier. He now manages the Vegetable Garden at RHS Garden Wisley, where he loves growing unusual veg and herbs, finding the best flavours and advising visitors on what to grow and cook themselves.

Mario says, “Gardeners are all different but we all have one thing in common – we all love nature. If bad weather is forecast you can see that the team here at Wisley are trying to look calm but really they are shaking, because they are so passionate and they really care about their plants. My only regret, if I have to have one, is that I didn’t decide to change from chef to gardener 20 years earlier.”

Helen Freeman – Photographer at Thompson & Morgan
Helen trained as a photographer and initially had no idea that horticulture was an industry she would be able to use her skills in. She now photographs and films plants and flowers for Thompson & Morgan and has had images appear on magazine front covers.

Helen says, “Photography is not something you’d associate with horticulture but it’s actually a huge part of it. Companies such as Thompson & Morgan rely on it to promote and get their new products out there. I first discovered aspects of art and design in horticulture when I visited the Chelsea Flower Show. The colours and design and everything about it inspired me. It’s a real privilege to be in this industry.”

Sam Everiss – Horticulturist at RHS Garden Hyde Hall
Sam went through a few different jobs before deciding to spend her life doing what made her happiest – gardening. She started out as cabin crew and lived in Bahrain working for Gulf air, then owned and ran her own coffee shop. Her favourite job is propagating in the nursery but she loves being outdoors with nature too.

Sam says, “This time of year is one of our busiest and best. I love being able to get outside. I hate being inside an office, not being able to get outdoors. I love being with nature and being a gardener is just great”

Christine Howard – General Manager at Howard Nurseries
Christine did three years of business studies at university before catching the family gardening bug and going on to study horticulture. She is now General Manager at Howard Nurseries, a job that combines both her commercial and horticultural skills and can be doing anything from media appearances, to project managing a reservoir build.

Christine said, “When you work in horticulture you know that the end product is going to give enjoyment to other people. You’re nurturing a plant and sending it off into the big wide world where someone else is going to look after it and get enjoyment for themselves. I couldn’t ask for a better job, there are so many opportunities.”

Lee Hood – Horticulturist at RHS Garden Hyde Hall
Lee spent years working in finance before being made redundant in the recession and deciding to restart his career, doing something he was actually passionate about. He trained with the RHS and loves every minute of being a gardener.

Lee says, “Changing careers from finance to horticulture is one of the best moves I ever made. Now I want to try and influence other people to enter this industry, because it is so diverse and currently, until you’re actually part of it, it’s hard to appreciate just what’s available. I enjoy every aspect of my job – if I could work seven days a week I would do”

Want to embed these inspiring videos in your website or blog?
*Insert this HTML-embedded code on your website to play the whole playlist from the beginning:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/JfdL-DY9VtE?list=PLXEVpDvKn91wzNdRvBqxDhJormMCfxpJ-" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
*To choose which video to begin with follow these steps:
• Visit bit.ly/1b1PJcu
• Click on the video you would like to share
• Beneath the video, click Share
• Click Embed
• Copy the HTML code (note: you also have the option to change the video size before doing this)
• Ask your web editor to past the HTML code where desired on your website e.g. in a blog post

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Latest press releases

About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262