Suburban Safari: Sholing bloomstrolling 

Suburban Safari: Sholing bloomstrolling 

by Katie Isham.

The recent Spring Equinox has lifted me out of my winter slumber. I took this as a shot in the arm (not the one I’m after, but this’ll do for now) to take a more positive view. Time to fling open the doors and spend an afternoon sprucing up the garden. 

But first I needed supplies and inspiration. 

I took myself to Mayfield Park on Weston Lane, home of Mayfield Nurseries. A wander here will remind you of the good in the world; it’s the perfect antidote to the soul-destroying doomscrolling through hate, corruption and pessimism online. Let’s go bloomstrolling! 

Mayfield is a delight any time of the year but right now there’s a sense of excited expectation in the air. Even though the flower beds aren’t fully planted yet, there are buds and blooms everywhere else. Ribbons of daffodils streak across the woodland floor like lightning. A cartoon whisp of blossom aroma beckons you toward the winding paths around the walled garden. Once you smell the scent, you can’t escape and soon you are faced with towering camelias on all sides in a range of vibrant hues. It’s like you’ve been shrunk and slipped inside a fairy tale. 

At your feet, stars of baby blue reach up to you. Above, giant ornamental trees stand stoically overseeing the gardens in their own glory. Everywhere you look, you’re presented with the overpowering resurgence of growth. And I haven’t even mentioned the blossoms yet. Huge cotton topped explosions of life performing sun salutations as bumble bees potter amongst their bounty. I think I had a tear in my eye, or it may have been burgeoning hay fever.

Soul quenched, I steered myself to find my own sprig of greenery to take home. Mayfield Nurseries is a small plant nursery, part of Solent Mind, the Hampshire mental health charity. Whether you’ve got a sprawling garden of your own, a few containers or even just room for a house plant or two on your windowsill, there’ll be something you need right here. Solent Mind advocates the importance of gardening and the outdoors in supporting mental health which seems like a blooming good idea to me. 

Offering wellbeing workshops, gardening for dementia and the Plants for People project, Mayfield Nurseries is a place where goodwill and compassion is cultivated alongside the seedlings. Choose a living reminder of the power of community to take home with you to care for: it’ll bring you hope as you watch it grow, even when you can’t venture out. 

Talking of nurseries, I was reminded of an old garden centre I used to visit as a child. I say, “garden centre”, but I think it was more a home with a plethora of polytunnels and greenhouses. Time to continue bloomstrollling down memory lane. 

Descend the secret pathway at Mayfield Park’s rear entrance toward Miller’s Pond. Then face an architectural conundrum. Cross Portsmouth Road and duck underneath either of the railway bridges: old or new, both are glorious structures. Skirt around the edge of Miller’s Pond, enjoying the emerging greenery and blossoming bushes. Join Botany Bay Road and follow the curve to the houses. If you’re lucky, you might be passed by a magnificent local horse out for a canter with its cart. Either way, be sure to appreciate the array of flowers on display in the gardens along the route. 

Walk to the end of Botany Bay Road and one of the houses on the right used to be the site of the nursery many years ago. Being quite young when I was a regular here (enjoying running along the aisles more than the horticultural aspect), I cannot recall which house it was. Each time I walk past, my mind wanders to joyous childhood days, yet I long to remember more. I wonder if anyone can help me piece together the memories? 

My brain swirled with the scents of spring and hazy memories, enough to prune back the negativity of the news for a short while. Bloomstrolling is just what the gardener ordered for all our minds.


Cost: Free for the walk but there’s sure to be something you want to take home from Mayfield Nursery, so keep your card handy.  

Accessibility: Mayfield Park can be accessed via Weston Lane and a car park is available for both. Also on several bus routes. Mayfield Nurseries is accessible through gravel paths. Woodland terrain around the walled garden. Pavements and paths along and through Miller’s Pond are paved but narrow under bridges and disappear into the road for a stretch along Botany Bay Road. 

Facilities: Mayfield Nurseries are open Wednesday to Sunday. In less pandemic days, they have a café and toilet facilities. Great plants and gardening paraphernalia at all times.