‘A brilliant healer’: Will Young reveals how gardening has helped tackle anxiety

Gardeners World: Monty Don's advice on topiary

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During a candid interview with garden designer Joe Swift on BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World in 2019, the musician shared his experience of suffering from anxiety and how the “act of nurturing” plants had proven a “brilliant healer”. Will Young will appear on tonight’s episode of Gardeners’ World where he will showcase a courtyard garden at his South London home.

Back in 2019, the 42-year-old invited Joe Swift on a tour around the garden at his farmhouse in Blisland, Cornwall, where he discussed his battle with anxiety and how he got “very ill”.

Will highlighted how spending time in the outdoors, where he grew Dahlias and Irises from bulbs, along with sweet peas and vegetables, had proven an effective way to manage his anxiety.

“The process of creating something is miraculous, from a tiny seed, or a tiny cutting, you get these amazing plants,” he explained. 

“But you have to be patient, you have to nurture and maybe the act of nurturing something else maybe aids you to nurture yourself, it’s amazing how people talk about pills and counselling, which do all work, but gardening and nature is a brilliant healer, it’s just the best.”

Will revealed how gardening had always been a passion of his and had helped to earn him a wage while studying for his A Levels and as a politics student at Exeter University. 

Gardening work had also helped to fund the singer’s travel to a music audition in London, where he went on to compete and win Pop Idol, the ITV talent contest, in 2002.

His mother and sister are both horticulturists, and his father is a keen gardener. 

He showcased a range of plants which had been grown from cuttings from his parents’ gardens, including an Aquilegia, or Granny’s Bonnet. 

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His mum, Annabel, who is a garden designer, created a gravel garden at his Cornish farmhouse, which has since been sold.

During the Gardeners’ World episode, Will showcased a Clematis on a trellis, which had been created from his mother’s old cot.

His dad, Robin, had crafted his own bird boxes for the surrounding Wagtails. 

Will showcased a range of grass varieties and after revealing that he tended to trim them back in October, he was advised by Joe to leave them until the winter months.

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“A lot of them can hold their form”, explained Joe, who added that Spring was the best time to cut them back.

Adopting a technique demonstrated by Monty Don on an episode of Gardeners’ World, Will showcased a Cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, which he had propped up with a stake and twigs.

While pointing out plants he was fond of, Will admitted he had a “cavalier” approach to gardening, adding: “I just throw them in, see how it looks and learn the names afterwards.”

Praising the benefits gardening has had on boosting his wellbeing, Will said: “Gardening has really helped me because it grounds me.

“I like to feel the earth, and it’s sensory, so it’s definitely become a very beneficial thing for my wellbeing and something I actually deliberately put in to my daily, weekly, and monthly routine.”

Will revealed that by adopting gardening into his routine, it had proven therapeutic.

He said: “I love it, it’s so good for the soul and it’s a pleasure to be in this space.”

Gardeners’ World airs tonight on BBC 2 at 9pm.

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