Alan Titchmarsh hails wonders of gardening as first shoots of snowdrops begin to bloom in Yorkshire
Sowing seeds of hope as the nation seeks solace in small joys, gardener Alan Titchmarsh is among those extolling the gains of the great outdoors.
The veteran broadcaster, detailing the benefits of lockdown gardening, has revealed he lost a stone in weight through last spring and summer as he toiled in the garden.
"To pardon the pun, it has grounded us all," he said.
"It has shown a sense of reality that seems to have been lacking in this crazy world at the moment and I think a lot of people, particularly because the last lockdown happened in spring, the garden was burgeoning and coming back to life."
The health and wellbeing benefits of gardening have long been recognised, in reconnecting with nature and in light physical exercise.
There is also a hearty satisfaction to be had, said Titchmarsh on Good Morning Britain, in carving creation from garden landscapes.
"A lot of people discovered the solace, the mental health benefits of being out there on the ground in the garden watching things grow," he said.
Grewelthorpe’s Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park, while presently closed for its winter season, has seen a flurry of green shoots over recent months.
Will Roberts, whose family formed its charitable trust, said many people have found renewed enthusiasm for the outdoors and in enjoying gardening again.
"People have certainly missed our green spaces," he added.
At RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate, the gardens have remained open in pre-booked slots to local visitors for exercise in line with current guidelines.
There had been a huge surge in people taking up gardening in the first lockdown, said curator Paul Cook, and it was keen to see this continue.
Here the vibrant stems of dogwood and willow, ranging in colour from a vivid yellow to black, stand out against a willow foliage of feathery conifers and clipped yew hedging.
Snowdrops are already beginning to pop, said Mr Cook as the garden hosts its Winter Walks, signalling a "sure sign" that spring is soon to be on the way.
"There are some wonderful winter flowers to enjoy such as the Cyclamen coum with pink or white backswept propeller shaped flowers which float over kidney shaped foliage often prettily marked with silver veins," he said.
"Gardens and outdoor space are so important for both mental and physical health," he added.
"You don’t need much space to have a go at gardening and a great way to start is by growing your own fruit and veg, allowing you to have plenty of healthy food that you can pick as and when you need it along with a fantastic sense of accomplishment.
"Getting outside and taking in some fresh air can do wonders for your wellbeing and as the early snowdrops and daffodils begin to pop up, they bring with them the first signs of spring and a feeling of renewal."