If you don’t yet have any plans for Valentine’s Day and you wish to ignite a new love or nurture a long-term relationship – head to Wakehurst and explore its beautiful and natural surroundings.
According to Nicola Preston Bell, a West Sussex relationship counsellor, what most couples really need is to feel a ‘real connection’ with their partner or potential partner – rather than the traditional (and easy) option of buying flowers and chocolates.
She said: “Walking and getting out into nature is a wonderful way to get some exercise and really communicate. When you are walking side by side it can feel easier to chat freely about sensitive issues than when you are sitting across a table from each other.
“You are forging happy memories, perhaps listening to bird song, pointing out different trees and plants. It is a shared experience that can build stronger emotional ties.”
Wakehurst, in Ardingly, has more than 500 acres to discover and explore.
Apart from the botanic gardens, the Elizabethan mansion and the Millennium Seed Bank, the psychotherapist said you can ‘lose yourself’ in miles of magical forests.
Explore the native woodlands in The Loder Valley nature reserve and also trees from temperate woodlands around the world, planted together. Or admire the displays of cyclamen and snowdrops and a colourful winter garden which has been planted especially to lift spirits in mid-winter.
“If you don’t have a partner – it doesn’t matter, you should nurture yourself in this way too. You needn’t feel lonely when you are walking in a beautiful place, as you are not alone. Look at it in a really positive light. Be mindful of where you are, what you can see, smell, hear and touch. You can begin to get any problems in perspective and realise you are part of a much bigger world than the one that is currently drawing your attention,” she added.
Couples who wish to make a day of it have the option of a indulging in a ‘special roast lunch’ at the Stables restaurant at Wakehurst Place with a complimentary glass of wine and a heart-shaped chocolate to share. No booking is required.
Or become a ‘Friend of Wakehurst’ for £25 per year by direct debit, which gives free entry all year around.
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