GARDENING has always been regarded as a healthy pursuit but a Douglas man claims it has quite literally saved his life!
Excusing the pun, everything in the garden was very, very far from rosy for Tom Kirkland earlier this year.
In fact, the 57-year-old was facing a very bleak future, having been diagnosed with a serious heart condition which required urgent and radical surgery if he was to survive much longer.
He told the Gazette this week that, even if that complex opperation was a success, he faced the prospect of a very limited lifestyle after that; he felt he was still far, far too young to become a virtual prisoner in his own home, too frail to lead anything approaching an active life.
He told the Gazette: “Back in March of this year I was told I needed a triple heart-bypass operation and, after five weeks’ wait, underwent that operation in April.
“I was obviously devastated about all this and wondered what life held for me later on.”
Deciding he was not going to give in to a future as an invalid, Tom set about finding some activity that would get him out of the house and into the fresh air while he convalesced from his life-saving operation.
The answer came in the form of gardening.
He went on: “I secured an allotment about a mile from the village and Angus Estates and had two greenhouses erected. I got some cuttings and small plants from friends and got to work on growing pelargoniums and geraniums.”
He reflects now that, at the start, he still had to take things relatively easy and still follow doctor’s orders to ensure his recovery to full health continued.
“I had to take a taxi every day to the allotment as I wasn’t allowed to drive!
“However, it was the motivation I needed, knowing that the plants needed watered and fed every day. It got me up and about and on the road to recovery.”
A milestone on the road back to recovery came a fortnight ago at Ayr Flower Show.
“I won the Scottish Pelargonium and Geranium Championship at the show, winning no less than five of the seven trophies available. There were exhibitors from all over Scotland and even Ireland.
“I just hope that this shows folk going through what I did a few months ago that such a serious operation isn’t an ending but a beginning.
“I hope this tale is a bit of motivation for others who felt the way I did and how, with a bit of determination, you can achieve great things if you don’t lie down to illness, no matter how serious it is.”