Give yourself a moment to dream mama. Visualize what your ideal garden would look and smell like and what feelings you’d imagine it to evoke. Peaceful and calming, isn’t it? My Interview with Sarah of Growthfully will help you understand that the simple act of gardening can be creative, de-stressing and also healing.
Podcast: My Garden, My Life
Carol: Hello and welcome. I’m Carol Webb, the founder of Just Breathe Mama Coach. I’m a coach for moms. I love helping them navigate the overwhelm to create a more manageable life. One that’s filled with joy because we all need a little bit more joy in our lives, don’t we? My next guest is Sarah from Growthfully in the UK, and she loves creating gardens. She enjoys making gardens, relaxing and gardens getting her hands in the soil. The garden is her favorite place to express her creativity, engage with nature and find solace at times of difficulty. So welcome, Sarah. I’m very glad that you can be with us today.
Sarah: Thank you for having me. That’s really kind of you.
Carol: So obviously you like creating gardens. I love the entire concept of your business. I wanted to know if you could explain to the mama’s watching today, what it is exactly that you do.
Sarah: So I help women essentially. They’re the starting point for the people I work with. They sometimes come with other halfs, but we usually start with me and the mum or me and the woman. I help her to make the most of that precious space. So often we have this space outside of our homes, which can depress us rather than lift our spirits. And if you’re looking outside your window and your heart drops, and what you say to yourself is, “Oh, I must do something about my garden or my garden could be so much better.” That’s a really sad situation because those spaces are precious. We’re lucky to have them. We’re privileged to have them.
Sarah: And so I help women get clear on what it is that they want and conceive a way to use that space. I guide them through the process of making a garden and connecting with the space. So I’m different to a garden designer who will just do it for you because I will work on Zoom with someone. I have a setup over there at my drawing board where I have the camera phone over my left shoulder and they’re watching while I’m drawing and we’re talking. So I like to really involve them in the process. Obviously in the UK, I go to people’s gardens, but I do work with people from all over the place.
Carol: Fantastic. What is it that you did prior to becoming a gardening coach?
Sarah: So I’ve had two careers. I’ve been both a garden designer in the more conventional sense. Literally going into people’s gardens, designing them, bringing in the landscapers, making the whole thing happen, but in a very much more – I will do it for you – kind of way. And I did that for more than a decade in London. So city gardens, mainly. I now live in the country, so it feels a little bit different.
Sarah: Then during that time, I also trained as a psychotherapist and once I was qualified, I actually swapped. I stopped designing for a while, became a psychotherapist, worked again another decade with clients. With women essentially because my thing is about helping women find space for themselves in their lives. And that has come about from my own experience as a young mom and not having enough space in my life and finding myself with postnatal depression and needing to find a way to live my life that was sustaining and joyful and creative for me. This way of working is a combination of all of that.
Carol: Okay. So that’s how your business came about then. Naturally, your love for gardening and helping women turned into a business?
Sarah: Yeah, I was quite poorly about five years ago and found I couldn’t work as a therapist anymore. I wasn’t well and whilst I was recovering and convalescing, the idea of bringing these two passions for gardens and garden making and women and space making came together. So Growthfully came out of that.
Carol: Ah, that’s wonderful. And you have a 30 minute discovery call on your website. What does that entail? What do people receive out of those 30 minutes with you?
Sarah: Well, it’s an opportunity to talk about yourself and your garden and what you want for yourself from your garden. And my passion is for helping women to really connect with their space. Because what I believe is that a space with which we have a relationship is much easier to look after it, becomes a joy rather than a burden, we get creative out there. One thing leads to another. I was gardening at the weekend and I started in one place and I ended up in a completely different place because one job led to another and this led to that. And it just is so, *takes a deep breath* what’s the word?
Carol: Yeah, it’s like a that! A release almost, a deep breath.
Sarah: Yeah, breath! Breath in. It’s just so good for us.
Carol: Yeah. It’s good for the soul. We actually are creating a garden in our backyard soon. We’ve just put a swimming pool in and we need to create the outside. So I think I might be giving you a call. *laughs*
Sarah: Well maybe we should talk. *laughs* A discovery call is a chance to meet to see whether we like each other. Whether we like each other’s way of being and talking and to get a sense of what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Then from the discovery call, I’m able to say, “Okay, well, I think we should do the coaching, or I think we should do a clarity call, or I think we should design…” I can it work out and make a proposal for the next steps of working with that person after we’ve done a discovery call.
Carol: I was going to ask now, what programs you offered to people who do want to work with you?
Sarah: Yeah, so they all start with what I call a visualization. Which you may be familiar with that idea of closing your eyes and getting really grounded. And I take my clients through a mindfulness exercise where they start to grow roots through the bottoms of their feet and get really, really solid and settled. And then I invite them to imagine themselves in the future, in their dream space and use their senses: how it feels, how it looks, what they can smell, what they can hear. We use that information together with the information I’ve gathered from video and asking questions and what they’ve actually got, to conceive a space that they’re going to really, really love.
Carol: I loooove that.
Sarah: Yeah. It’s a really beautiful way of working.
Carol: I don’t know if a lot of people think about how they want to feel in their garden. Sure, you can pick out plants that you think are pretty, but have you thought about how you want it to smell and how you want to feel? You do want to come out in your garden and just take that breath, you want to feel relaxed, you want to feel joyful. I love that. And visualizations are very strong for helping with that, they’re very powerful.
Sarah: Absolutely, yeah. And I invite them to do a Pinterest board then in my work, the offerings kind of split into three different things. I have what I call a garden clarity call, which is 75 minutes. They send me information, pictures, I ask questions beforehand and we hop on Zoom together. We just do the visualization and then talk about what they’ve got and see what I can suggest on the spot to improve things for them. They can check out ideas they’ve got, and they can say, “What about this corner?” And I can say to them, “Hmm, yes. Well have you thought about doing X?” So that’s garden clarity call, 75 minutes and that can lead into garden coaching, design.
Sarah: I do something called the garden experience where we have several sessions together with them perched on my shoulder designing the actual garden. And they will send me the video, but also a plan of the space and we will work together to design it. Then I will support them through the process of choosing a landscaper. And through the process of designing the planting I will just be there literally as a coach. I don’t do it for you, but I answer questions and support you through the process.
Carol: Yeah, that’s wonderful. What is the top question that you get asked by clients? Is there a top question?
Sarah: I often get asked about trees. “Okay. I’ve got a tree in my garden. It’s not really in the right place and I don’t really like it. Is it okay to remove it?” And that’s very much dependent on the tree and where it is and what it is. I do believe that there are grounds for removing a tree sometimes because I think we don’t want to.
Carol: Yeah you don’t. You feel like they’re in the ground now, if you take them out and you move them someplace else, are they just going to wither?
Sarah: Yeah you can’t take a tree out and move it mostly. You have to replace it with something else. But if you have got a tree that is blighting the space, then I think it’s fine. You replace it with other things and trees and you bring in far more nature, but I’m cautious about it. I don’t just say yes, take out your tree. I’m cautious about it. That’s my most asked question.
Carol: Okay. Can you list some of the biggest benefits that moms would receive from doing one of your programs or even just the discovery call?
Sarah: Well, the discovery call is a means to an end really. It doesn’t stand on its own as a service because we don’t pay for it. It’s a way of exploring more.
Sarah: But doing a garden clarity call, what you get is, well, people tell me they completely change their mindset about the garden. So instead of thinking, “I don’t know what to do. I’m scared to do this. Shall I do that? I can’t get started. I feel blocked.” They come away from that call feeling inspired and excited and with steps to take. They know what’s next, they know what’s possible, they’ve been invigorated into a relationship with the garden in a way. I had a woman recently tell me, “I know nothing has actually changed out there yet, but I sit in my deck chair and I think about what I’m going to be doing. And I feel so different about it to how I felt before the call.”
Carol: Changes everything.
Sarah: Yeah changes everything.
Carol: Completely. That’s amazing. Can you offer the mamas listening a little tip on how to get started in creating their garden, especially when they’re so busy with little ones? Is there just one little tip that you could give them?
Sarah: I think it’s – start small. One of the things that’s really supported me over the years and in the days when I had little children, my children are grown up now, but I had small children too and I think creating a pot, choosing a container that you really, really love and placing it by the door to your home, where you’re going to see it a lot or opposite a window and actually choose plants for it that lift your heart and that maybe have some seasonal interest. So something that lasts all year, bulbs underneath that will come up in spring. The lasagna, do you know about lasagna planting?
Carol: I don’t actually, no.
Sarah: So it’s a technique for planting a pot where you put two or three different types of bulb in it. You put something at the bottom, like a tulip and then you might put a daffodil or a narcissus then you might put a little iris and you layer them in the pot, in the soil. Then you put something on the top which is pretty for now like violas, an ivy or maybe a little box or cone shape. Something that’s pretty all year round. Then you watch as the seasons happen. And at the moment, my lasagna, I’ve got some outside my greenhouse, has got Irises just finishing, narcissus is just coming, violas, tulips. It’s a really lovely thing to do.
Carol: Oh I’ve never heard of that before. That’s a great technique. Love that.
Sarah: If you look at sararaven.com, she has a little video about doing a lasagna on there.
Carol: Okay. I’m going to have to try that.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s really lovely. Probably now is not the moment because you won’t get the bulbs, but buy the bulbs in August. That’s another great tip. Write in your diary now, “Get bulbs ordered in August” and then you can plant it for next spring and enjoy it through the season.
Carol: Great idea.
Sarah: Because it’ll come back every year, they’re repeat perennials. So that’s a really nice thing. And then once you’ve done that, you might do another one and you might do one. Then you might think, “Oh, what am I going to do with that?” But the other thing I would suggest is thinking about layouts, because one part in a garden isn’t going to make your garden lovely. So thinking about how you use the space, who uses the space, where you want to site, where you’re going to have a glass of wine in the evening, where you’re going to have a cup of coffee in the morning, where’s the sun. How do you want to get from one place to the other? Think about layout, think about what draws you through the space.
Carol: Oh, that’s fantastic. So thank you, Sarah, for that conversation today and the information that you provided us.
Sarah: My pleasure!
Carol: I’m just gonna let the mamas out there know where we can find more information about you. Sarah’s got a website and it’s growthfully.co.uk and you can also read her blog there. She’s got a beautiful Instagram account @growthfully. And she also has a podcast called ‘My Garden, My Life‘ which you should take a listen to as well. Thank you again, Sarah. I loved that conversation that we just had and learning about all that you do to help others out there feel a little bit more joyful within their gardens.
Sarah: Yeah absolutely. And the other thing about a garden is that personally, when I’m having a bad moment, I go outside and I put my gloves on because I don’t like my nails getting muddy and pot something or sew something or dig or weed, the mood just changes. It’s really, really extraordinary how connecting with the soil and plants just empowers us to move through something that’s difficult.
Carol: Just being out in nature, getting your hands in the dirt. Right?
Sarah: So it’s very healing.
Carol: Well, thank you again, Sarah. Mama’s I think you should check out her IG account for sure and her website. Thank you. It was such a pleasure.
Sarah: Thank you!
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