A mental health professional explained the link between gardening and wellbeing as part of Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health on Friday.

Rina Deans is a tutor at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust's Recovery College, which co-produce mental health and wellbeing training courses.

Rina shared her experience and the challenges she faced during the first lockdown, as well as how gardening has helped.

“It was so difficult. All my freedoms - going to work, shopping, seeing friends, going on public transport- were taken away. I was struggling to adjust, but gardening helped coping in the difficult time,” she said.

Her son had to grow a plant for a school project and they decided to pot some tomato seeds which they had at home. Few shoots came out and grew quite tall.

“We harvested a few tomatoes and it was amazing. It helped our wellbeing and bonding with my son and family.

“You can use whatever you have at home and experiment. The failure does not matter, it gave me courage to go on with this difficult life,” she said.

Sharing some gardening tips, Rina said important factors are sunlight, water and good soil compost.

Rina said her favourite is the spider plant.

“I like it because it is strong and resilient," she said. "When I am down, I look at it and I get a lot of power from it."

The Recovery College has run for almost seven years, offering over 30 courses related to mental and physical wellbeing. Online free courses are now open for registration for the summer term.

Courses include serious topic like suicide, anxiety and depression but also lighter theme like gardening and wellbeing and mindfulness.

One of the most popular courses, Tree of Life, will be held on June 7 and 14, exploring the strengths and resources people use throughout their life by drawing a tree.

All classes are based on three key components: hope, opportunity and control.

“Recovery is a life journey going up and down. We believe that recovery is possible for everyone. And we offer a number of self-care techniques and tips on advice for people to utilise these skills to look after themselves,” Rina said.