Veteran TV gardening guru Jim McColl has encouraged people to embrace horticulture as a way of relieving stress and boredom during lockdown.
With many feeling cooped up during the crisis, the Beechgrove Garden legend has offered some tips on how people can take up the hobby – no matter their age and regardless of whether they have a lush outdoors ripe for planting, or room only for a window box they can tend to.
Mr McColl said: “I’ve known all my life that gardening is brilliant to get into, it is social, can be taken at any level and can be started at any time in your life.
“You can also do it anywhere, of course someone 15 floors up in a flat might just be limited to boxes on the windowsill – but that is still gardening.
“The simplest thing that people can do is buy a couple of dozen bags of seeds, or drop some potatoes into the ground, and in a couple of months they will multiply and you’ll get a huge reward.
“The thing about gardening that is so great is that it is basic, anyone can do it.”
As well as offering a soothing, family-friendly hobby, gardening can also serve a practical purpose at a time when shops may not be as well-stocked as they once were.
But Mr McColl was most keen to stress the social benefits it can bring, with it being easy to strike up conversation with a neighbour or friendly passerby.
The 84-year-old added: “Gardening is also a challenge, people look over and wonder if they can do it better than those next door – and you can get chatting while two meters apart that way.
“There are so many opportunities for socialising, when obviously that is limited in our current circumstance.
“But you can find yourself chatting away about this and that, either in person or on gardening sites online.”
Mr McColl believes that anyone picking up their trowel for the first time will soon feel a mental and physical boost.
He said: “Something I have found in my life of gardening is, whilst it is quite simple, it commands your attention and, before you know where you are, whatever is bugging you is gone.
“You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want, but by the time you’ve walked round the garden a couple of times you have also taken about 1,000 steps all whilst occupying yourself.
“It is a healthy thing to get out and do.”
And he also hopes it will bring families closer together by uniting the generations in a shared interest.
“I used to mess about with my grandfather in his allotment as a child, him giving me things to do is the very first taste of it that I got”, he said.
“The two of us had a great relationship, we would walk miles to see the wild flowers, and that was because of gardening.”