As the Chelsea Flower Show opens its gates again, I have been reflecting on how the mental and physical benefits of gardens have been a key theme in several recent show gardens. They have shown how gardens can be beautiful havens to escape to and enjoy, bringing a sense of normality to fractured lives, as well as how they can help to tackle major environmental issues.
Some interesting facts about gardens and gardening -
Walking barefoot on grass grounds you and increases the level of endorphins (feel-good hormones) in your body, whilst green relaxes your eye muscles. http://thewoodsresorts.com/blog/health-benefits-of-walking-barefoot/
There are many benefits of successful planting - sitting under a tree can provide a feeling of security, relieving anxiety and stress; a seating area surrounded by scented plants such as herbs and lavenders is calming; and attracting bees and butterflies with plants such as rosemary, catnip, mint and thyme gives you a sense of achievement in benefiting the environment.
Consider a vegetable growing area, as tending a garden promotes well-being, and salad or vegetables from the garden are guaranteed to be free from chemicals – the world health organisation has alerted us to how pesticides used in agriculture may induce adverse health effects including cancer, effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems. https://www.who.int/features/qa/87/en/
Charity Thrive recognises that gardening can transform lives and shows first-hand how gardening can help everyone, regardless of age or disability; and psychiatrist and psychotherapist Sue Stuart-Smith has written a book, The Well Gardened Mind, which describes the science behind how the garden is intrinsically linked to our capacity for self-reflection and creative thinking. An article in Psychology Today also talks about the numerous mental health benefits of gardening, from focusing on the moment to how being outdoors raises levels of happy hormones serotonin and dopamine and reducing the stress-hormone cortisol. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/worry-and-panic/201505/petal-power-why-is-gardening-so-good-our-mental-health
Research at the Sleep Disorders Centre of the University of Heidelberg showed that smelling flowers before sleep can lead to more positive dreams, and vanilla, lavender and other relaxing smells can reduce stress and aid sleep. How about sitting under a chocolate vine, enjoying its purple flowers in April and its delicious vanilla scent before bed for sweet dreams?
I know creating gardens always makes me feel good, and time in my own little garden boosts my health and happiness.