Relationships reflect the care they are given.

It is often said that children, relationships and gardens all reflect the care they are given.

And that is very true. If we neglect any of these things then they will not grow or will become wild and unruly! A great deal of time and effort is always needed in the early stages of bringing up children, forming new relationships or in creating a garden. They all need to be provided with the basics, and then they need to be nurtured.

If we don’t provide a child with the basic essentials they need, then they will not grow into a healthy, trusting, caring adults. If we aren’t attentive in a new relationship and cultivate it, it will wither and die.

And likewise, if we don’t tend to our garden it will do either or both of those things. All these delicate things need to be cultivated and nurtured to be the best they can be. They will not thrive on neglect.

We all know how much looking after and support children need in their early years. It’s hard work and often a shock - albeit a beautiful one to new parents.

New relationships need both people to work on them to help the relationship blossom. They need commitment and a willingness to adapt and change and to be accepting.

Gardens need to be dug, plants planted and watered, and weeds need to be kept down.

And in all 3 cases this takes time. It can’t be rushed. It needs time, effort and attention.

But in all these areas we can all react in different ways.

So, are you a Gardener or a Sculptor?

Sometimes, when it comes to children and relationships, we make the mistake of dealing with them as if we were a sculptor or a wood carver, seeing them as something we have to mould into shape, as a sculptor might see a lump of clay, or as a carver might fashion a block of wood, into a new and interesting form. Parents may think that children need to be shaped and moulded into something, or someone.

But a Gardener, rather than a sculptor or wood carver, will tend the ground, plant seeds and nurture them. They will allow the garden to develop, adding to it and weeding out anything unwanted and tending the good growth with care, attention and love. A gardener will bring up their children by providing the right environment and support, allowing them to flourish and grow into who they are, not what we want them to become.

Children, relationships and gardens all need to be tended well in order to grow. But so too, do we. Our bodies and our minds need care and attention. But how we choose to tend to these things will result in the way in which they flourish and grow. We are what we eat. We are what we think. If we wouldn’t neglect our children our relationships, our work or friendships, why, then would we neglect ourselves?

Do you put yourself before others? Or are you, like me, someone who often puts others first, occasionally neglecting your own needs? Or do you take time out for yourself, to look after you and be your own Gardener?

We all have our own dedicated gardener living within us, giving us the ability to look after ourselves, both physically, emotionally and spiritually.

But sometimes we don’t allow that gardener to nurture us. We shut him (or her) up in the potting shed and carry on without him.

Have you ever ignored your own instincts, thinking sometimes that it doesn’t matter, you can cope? Or that you are invincible…It won’t happen to you? Do you give in to cravings or brush your feelings and emotions under the carpet, thinking they will go away and you will cope?

Then you are shutting your personal gardener in the shed! He can’t help you if you don’t listen to him or take his advice!

Many of us are very good at bringing up our children, holding or being very successful in a job or career, tending to our house and garden. But do we look after and tend to ourselves in the same way. Do we value our own thoughts, feelings or self-worth? Do we try to mould ourselves around others, fitting in with them at our own expense? Are we carving out their desires without a thought for our own? Letting people pull at our heart strings?

If you have ever:

  • not done something that you wanted to do because of what someone else might think or feel?
  • said “Yes,” when you should have said “No.”?
  • apologised when there was no expectation or need for apology?
  • felt guilty about doing something - or not doing something?
  • felt bound to do things for others, out of a sense of duty?

Then you are probably not looking after yourself as your inner gardener would like you too.

I guess many of us have done these things from time to time. And here we could become resentful if we aren’t careful. Or we could become ill. This is not being fair to ourselves. Why would we treat ourselves with any less respect or care than we would treat others?

Don’t get me wrong. I love helping others and I am a very caring person.

But there has to be a balance. It is healthy to be kind and caring and to support others and be helpful. But it is not always healthy to be at their beck and call! It is not healthy, to be so consumed by what we do for others, that we are neglecting ourselves. Physically or Emotionally.

As a parent, the more we do for our children, the less they will learn to be able to do for themselves.  As a partner, the more we do for the other person in our life, the more they may become dependent on us or expect us to do it as the norm. In so many areas of life we can be in control, or we can be controlled. We can be a sculptor or wood carver trying to shape things. Or we can be a Gardener, allowing things to take their natural course, but providing the right environment for the plants in the garden.

But taking care of ourselves, doesn’t always mean just taking a nice warm relaxing bath with candles and incense! A Gardener doesn’t just smell and admire the flowers. A gardener has to cut back dead wood and pull out thorns! A gardener has to adapt to the weather and nature, accept failed crops and guard against infestation. A gardener can’t be in control of the weather, or unforeseen circumstances. A gardener sometimes needs to seek advice or ask for help.

I am an Emotional Wellbeing Coach and I see being a coach or therapist as a lot like being a Gardener.

Just as a gardener has the tools and can provide the right environment to tend and nurture his plants, so can we. We can allow those who seek our help to be able to find the Gardener within them. We can provide the right environment and help them find the tools they need to tend their own garden. We are privileged to be able to see the changes in each garden, sometimes helping to strip back the thorns and pull out all those choking weeds, to enable a client to begin to see the beauty in Life. And it is a joy to witness the change in each person as their own plants and flowers begin to bloom in their Garden.


If you are not well looked-after, how can you look after others well?

Take time for you. Nurture yourself.

Look after yourself as if you are your own dedicated Gardener.

And if you need help….. ask for it!

Wishing you Happy, Healthy Gardening!

Belinda Wells, Ollie Coach   

Belinda is an Ollie Coach and Foster Carer. Previously a Primary School Teacher, she now has over 20 years’ experience working with children. Her interests are psychology, how we think and why we behave as we do, and she loves learning and writing.  Belinda enjoys seeing the difference her work as an Ollie Coach can make to the children and families she works with.

To get in contact with Belinda email