When I hear the phrase, the power of connection, I think of time with friends, neighbours, and family members. This past year, my connection with nature has been crucial to my wellbeing. In the many months when hanging out and socialising became a potential health risk, hanging out with nature was my solace. My allotment plot became a place where, in the hopeful nurture of plants, I feel held - in my own moments of sadness and fear.

Enforced isolation means I've spent more time on my plot in the last year. Digging, weeding and wondering whether I dare leave that courgette for another day or two, and risk slugs getting at it before me! Often, I get lost in the commune with my plot and forget, briefly, the helplessness I feel in the face of COVID-19. For me, these brief moments that sometimes stretch to hours are a place of safety. A place where I can dream and plot, grow, nurture and hope.

Often, I encounter other plot holders and walk closer, but not too close. I meet their eyes as I say hello, and ask how they are, “Are you keeping well?”

Together, we marvel at the fortune of our access to this outside space. Where we can keep apart but close enough to mind one another, and hold each other while we gently allow our fears to seep out through our voice. We joke, we laugh, we share the sadness of lives lost and pray together in our voiced hope that soon, change will come.

In the eyes of fellow gardeners, I see the vulnerability that I feel in the face of COVID-19. But in the connection built through time given to each other, I feel a strength that has become part of my sustenance. A connection that only came to be because of our connection with nature.

Working on my plot helps me re-focus on the power of hope, which is a constant presence in my therapy room. As a counsellor I believe that, in the midst of despair, it's the hope that they can change that makes clients come to me. The hope I have that one day my clients will arrive at that place where they feel they want to be, is ever present in my practice.

I put seeds in the soil mostly with enthusiasm but sometimes apprehension. In both cases, I nurture them and wait. I hope that they thrive. Mostly, I get what I hope for – a seedling appears eager to be nurtured into full bloom. I’m learning from nature how to be patient. To wait, once I have done all I can do, and trust the process. Soon enough, the change I want will come.

There are days when I’d rather do anything else than go to my plot. But eventually I get back into the rhythm. A friend recently said to me, “It sounds like your allotment is your happy place”. Reflecting later I thought, no. It’s more my place of equilibrium. Where, even when I feel sad and full of fear, the hope in nurture of plants seeps into me and helps me regain balance.