Immerse your senses in Nature
Author columnist and urban gardener, Alice Vincent shares her most treasured tips to feel closer to nature while indoors
The joy of roaming free in wild spaces, surrounded by plants and towering trees, has long been a wonderful way to recharge and slow down. Yet suddenly, we find ourselves in a world where these simple things seem out of reach.
At first it may seem that our connection to nature would need to be on hold until it was possible to be amongst it again - however, there are many ways to experience that connectedness to the outdoors from within your homes.
Sharing her green-fingered wisdom and passion for the natural world, we have partnered with Alice Vincent, author, Sunday Telegraph columnist and curator of the well-loved urban gardening Instagram account @Noughticulture, in our two-week nature-themed series.
This week, Alice shares her favourite ways to connect herself to nature and bring the outside in, 40ft up in her London flat….
One of the more surprising elements of lockdown is how much our awareness of the natural world around us has been heightened. As the human world has slowed down and retreated, there has been more room for the flora and fauna we live alongside to take up space.
You may have read that swans and fish have returned to the canals of Venice, that wild boar have descended on Barcelona and the snow-capped Himalayas are visible for the first time in decades. But even if you’re in town, without access to private outdoor space, there are ways to embrace nature in these new, slower times and bring the outside in.
Of course, one of the best ways to be consistently aware of the living world at home is to bring plants inside. Keeping houseplants around can add a calming and meditative element to your interior, and there's real joy and satisfaction to be found in the emergence of new growth - something that really takes off with spring and summer as plants wake up from winter dormancy. Seeing green, especially from living plants, can be immensely soothing.
There are other simple ways to embrace the outdoors from home, too. I’ve taken to starting the day by opening the window and tuning into the dawn chorus. Between March and July, birds sing early in the morning to attract a mate. Unless you’re a very light sleeper, you probably sleep through it, but it’s a beautiful natural phenomenon - something that has been scientifically proven to help us relax. I rise early naturally, but even if you don’t, leaving the window open a crack overnight will let some of the birdsong in to gently rouse you with the break of day. Without the usual chug of sirens and traffic, it’s never sounded better - and all from the comfort of bed.
I like to head out onto my balcony shortly after I get up, usually while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, sometimes after I’ve done my morning yoga. I’ve always found it deeply relaxing just to observe - even if only for 20 seconds. If you don’t have outdoor space, open a window. If you’re not sure what you're looking for, try asking yourself these questions: what can I see? What does the air smell like? What is the light doing? Breathe in, and out. With daily practice, you’ll start to see changes such as leaves appearing on the trees.
I’m fascinated by how natural light can change our perspective of the day we’re in. I’m fortunate enough to live in a flat that faces west, through woodland, which means that in the afternoons and evenings, my whole living room fills with magical, shapeshifting light and shadow. But whatever your surrounds, mirrors and glasses of water can do beautiful things to natural light. As the seasons wear on, and the sun moves in the sky, different patterns will emerge. It’s a really simple, and special, way of connecting to the outside world around us.
Alice Vincent is the author of Rootbound, Rewilding a Life.
Follow her on instagram.com/noughticulture for more nature-filled tips.
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