At peace in the garden

It has been said that gardening is good for the mind, body and soul.

For avid gardener, Gail Ford, the creation of her English cottage inspired garden — with mature trees, rare plants and Australian natives — has played a key part in her recovery from a nervous breakdown.

Ms Ford said building the garden gave her the much-needed inspiration and motivation to pull through her difficult time.

"I've always loved to garden," Ms Ford said. "Going back to gardening allowed me to think clearly and not dwell on the past. It gave me a goal to strive for."

Two and a half years ago, Ms Ford was given her small cottage on a quarter-acre block from the public housing pool.

She immediately went to work sketching plans for a new garden on the unkempt backyard she'd inherited.

"I just started to draw and landscape the way I wanted my garden to be," she said. "I knew basically the sun's position over the property throughout the day, so I knew which plants I could put where."

What makes Ms Ford's story even more inspirational is the fact that she spent the first six months digging everything by hand, edging the beds with a tomahawk and a small garden fork.

"I had my big toe amputated off my left foot and I'm right handed so it was really difficult to balance," she said. "I had to sit on my backside the entire time I gardened."

The garden is made up of salvia, bromeliads, geraniums, lavender, roses and many other species of plants. It also has a small Japanese zen garden, featuring screens as well as a bonsai collection.

Ms Ford's garden was inspired by her grandmother's cottage garden.

"I remember her garden had those English cottage flowers like roses and lavender and I just always loved them," she said.

Ms Ford's garden, appropriately named Serenity, will open to the public on September 22 and 23. Proceeds from the opening will support the national depression initiative, beyondblue.

Details:

■ Where: 45 Douglas Road, Fernhill;

■ When: September, 22 and 23, 10am to 4.30pm;

■ Cost: $6 (under 18 free).

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