Research from around the world has confirmed something many gardeners already know – gardening really is good for you!
Both gardens and gardening bring benefits to our physical and mental health, from providing exercise and keeping us active and fit, to getting us outside and connecting with plants, soil, and the natural world around us.
Gardens are great places to relax, and just being in or looking out onto gardens and green spaces has been shown to relieve stress, improving wellbeing and creativity. By creating a beautiful garden outside your own back door you’ll have a personal sanctuary to step out into, and somewhere to grow healthy food, welcome in wildlife, and spend time with family and friends.
Gardening is a creative, rewarding and productive pastime, with opportunities to learn new skills, find out about exciting new plants, share ideas and make new friends. All these have a positive and restorative affect on mental and physical health, keeping mind and body active, whatever your age.
In fact, gardening could be described as the Natural Health Service, as doctors recognise the numerous benefits gardening brings without the need for costly therapies and drugs, with their unwelcome side effects.
For instance, eating well can start by growing your own organic homegrown crops – all part of the ‘5 a day’ we all need to provide nutrients, health-boosting vitamins and minerals, and essential phytochemicals that help protect our bodies against disease. Herbs not only add wonderful flavours to our home cooking and teas, but bring many health benefits too.
Crops can be grown in even the smallest of spaces, providing the reward of picking fresh produce you’ve raised yourself. Combine these with colourful plants and fragrant flowers and any outdoor space will be transformed, giving you somewhere relaxing to sit or a vibrant space to socialise and entertain with family and friends.
Month-by-month the HTA’s ‘Gardening Is Good For You’ campaign will explore many of the benefits of gardens and gardening to our health and wellbeing. They’ll also feature topical gardening activities and ‘Plants of the Moment’ to help create rewarding gardens for work, rest and play.
DID YOU KNOW?
By choosing the right plants we can design gardens that encourage birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife to drop in for food, water and shelter, or even take up residence. Developing an all-year-round wildlife-friendly garden satisfies our own creativity and feeling of achievement, bringing us outside and closer to nature to reduce stress and improve our wellbeing. Contact with plants and the soil also enhances our health and boosts the immune system, too.
PLANTS OF THE MOMENT: YEAR-ROUND COLOUR & INTEREST
By creating a garden that looks great all-year-round you’ll not only have a beautiful outlook but more opportunities to be tempted outside throughout the year to stay active and grow yourself healthy.
To give your garden structure and form choose plants that offer more than one season of interest. In particular, pick evergreen plants and architectural shrubs with green, coloured or variegated foliage that also produce seasonal flowers, and perhaps fruits or berries too.
Plant these to form the backbone to your garden, giving it structure, and adding height at the back of borders. Use their bold shapes and sizes to obscure eyesores and cover boring fences, cut down noise from roads and neighbours, and create a sense of privacy and seclusion.
Any plants that provide year-round colour and interest e.g.
* Choisya eg ‘Sundance’ AGM, ‘Aztec Pearl’ AGM
* Hebe ‘Red Edge’ AGM
* Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ AGM
* Skimmia japonica ‘Fragrans’ AGM
* Photinia eg ‘Red Robin’ AGM
* Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ AGM
* Japanese spotted laurel - Aucuba japonica ‘Crotonifolia’ AGM
* Osmanthus x burkwoodii AGM
* Elaeagnus x submacrophylla ‘Limelight’
* Euonymus, Pieris, etc, etc.
INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE?
THE ORNAMENTAL ROUNDTABLE HEALTH AND HORTICULTURE CONFERENCE 2016
GARDEN ORGANIC & SUSTAIN
The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing
THE KING’S FUND
Gardens and health: Implications for policy and practice
JANUARY IMAGE CREDIT - Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diabolo' © Adam Pasco Media