Gardens mean different things to different people, and while some want a secluded space to unwind in and relax others want a place to entertain, chill out with family and friends, or simply enjoy pottering around their plot. Spending time outside helps to lower stress and anxiety, improves your mood, and is beneficial to mental health and wellbeing.
To start creating your perfect garden it’s best to write down what you want from it. Should it be inviting and welcoming, vibrant and fun, private and protected, or perhaps a spiritual space to meditate.
Set out the style, features to include, colours you love, and plants that appeal. Use books, magazines, and websites like Pinterest for inspiration, and then sketch out your ideas. Different plants lend themselves to different garden styles, whether clipped, clean and formal, or big, bold, bright and tropical, so visit local nurseries and garden centres to talk through ideas with their expert staff.
Perhaps you’re drawn to a traditional cottage garden, paths lined with lavender, borders packed with seasonal colour, or a seated arbour clad with a fragrant mix of roses, honeysuckle and clematis. With calming soft shades and scent filling the air, these are restful gardens to sit in and ponder – an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
If a lawn isn’t practical in small or shaded areas, develop a relaxing patio garden using paving, decking or aggregates. Leave planting pockets around the edges for evergreen climbers and shrubs to cover walls and fences, using large tubs and baskets to add drama and seasonal colour. And include furniture to tempt you outside, whether a simple bench to perch, table and chairs to dine alfresco, or something soft and comfortable to sink into, de-stress and meditate.
Boost your ‘five a day’ by growing tasty organic fruits, veg and salads fresh from the garden, perhaps designing an ornamental and productive potager, or mixing crops into borders with flowers. In small spaces grow crops and culinary herbs in pots within easy reach of the kitchen or barbecue.
Your garden could be a peaceful sanctuary or welcoming social space, boosting the health and wellbeing or all those who use it. And by styling different areas with plants to suit your mood you’ll be able to enjoy seasonal colour throughout the year.
Keen gardeners will enjoy the challenge of nurturing plants, relishing the fun of growing more ‘fussy’ or tender plants. This satisfies a creative spirit and proves mentally rewarding. However, there are plenty of ‘tried and tested’ favourites at garden centres now, perfect to produce beautiful displays with instant impact. These plants that are hardy, reliable, easy to maintain, and great value for money!
DID YOU KNOW?
Flowers can make you feel calm and relaxed, reducing stress and improving mental health. Fragrant flowers, like lavender, have been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure, too, aiding restful sleep. While the style of garden and colours used can affect mood and emotions, just looking out onto plants has healing properties, and can boost performance, productivity and creativity.
PLANTS OF THE MOMENT: PLANTING STYLES
Gardens can be created in many popular styles, so choose one to suit your mood. Perhaps you want a relaxing patio garden packed with colour where the family can play, or somewhere more modern, vibrant and stylish to sit out and entertain. Flowery and fragrant cottage gardens can include traditional favourites like roses, lilies and sweet peas, while a natural wildlife garden will create habitats with plants that will attract birds, bees, beneficial insects and other welcome friends.
If space allows try developing different themed areas divided by paths, clipped hedges, planted trellis screens or archways. Be creative and play with colour themes or celebrate a season, having fun and expressing your own personality.
Retailers can choose plants to fit in to selected planting styles, such as those mentioned above eg
* Cottage garden favourites.
* Reliable and easy to maintain shrubs and perennials.
* Bold, leafy and evergreen shrubs, bamboos, grasses, etc, to create privacy.
* Any shrubs, hedging, perennials and trees with flowers, fruits and berries of value to wildlife or that can be used to create habitats for nesting and feeding birds and insects, etc.
* Plants to include in this month’s selection could include: Bergenia, Brunnera, Cyclamen coum, Doronicum ‘Little Leo’, Nandina domestica and Photinia ‘Red Robin’.
INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE?
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
Garden Design to Reduce Stress
PUSH DOCTOR – September 2018
6 mental health benefits of plants:
Does Flower Power boost your mood?
Choose your style
LIVING COLOUR LANDSCAPES
USING COLOUR THERAPY IN GARDEN DESIGN
SCIENCE DAILY – July 2018
Living in greener neighbourhoods is associated with slower cognitive decline
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS
Elements of Good Garden Design
FEBRUARY IMAGE CREDIT - Garden Latham Avenue © Adam Pasco Media