Whether starting the day with tea and toast on the patio, relaxing in the shade, dining alfresco, or watching the sun setting with a cool drink, what better place to spend summer than in the garden. Bright mornings, sunny days and warm balmy evenings tempt us outside to enjoy a dose of green therapy, boosting our mood and recharging the batteries.

Designing social spaces into your garden creates opportunities to play and have fun in the sun, entertain over a tasty barbecue, or chill out with family and friends. Comfy furniture helps you relax in style, whether it’s reclining chairs, a hammock strung between trees, or a gently swinging seat in the shade.

Surrounding yourself with plants brings you closer to nature, improving mood and relieving depression. Looking out onto a garden provides a dose of ‘green therapy’, taking away aches and pains, speeding-up rehabilitation after illness, and improving mental health. That feeling of wellbeing you get from just being outside comes from a boost of what have colloquially been called ‘outdoorphins’, similar to the endorphins your body produces during exercise that reduce pain and raise the spirits.

Scientists also call this ‘biophilia’, an inbuilt need for humans to connect with nature and other forms of life, and have demonstrated how gardening and being outdoors in a natural setting can satisfy this intrinsic need.

Gardens can be vibrant outdoor rooms with space to entertain, socialise and play. They can also be places of peace and solitude to escape into and relax, or somewhere comfortable to unwind, practice mindfulness and recharge.

Both gardens and houseplants absorb pollutants from the air we breath, while dense boundary hedging reduces noise from roads and the general surroundings. And by planting shrubs, trees, hedges and climbers around our homes we’ll provide shelter from scorching sun and wind that in turn reduce heating and cooling costs, producing a much more comfortable environment to sit out and enjoy summertime in your garden.

DID YOU KNOW?

SUMMER SUN VITAMIN BOOST

When UVB radiation in sunlight reaches the skin it helps the body create vitamin D, which in turn helps us absorb calcium and phosphate from food that’s needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. From October to March the UVB levels in sunlight are too low to form vitamin D, and we rely on vitamins from our diet instead.

While sunshine is certainly good for you, always take care to protect skin against its harmful affects by covering-up, putting on a hat and sunglasses, and wearing sunscreen.

PLANTS OF THE MOMENT:  PLANTS FOR INSTANT COLOUR & DISPLAYS

There are plenty of plants available in nurseries and garden centres now to add instant colour and impact to summer displays. Many are ready-planted in larger patio pots and hanging baskets that can be put straight outside to enjoy.

These bigger plants are often already in bloom, making them easier to colour-coordinate and match with planting partners, furniture and accessories.

And as well as ornamental plants you’ll find productive ones too, from pots of tomatoes, chillies and strawberries to vegetables, salads, fruits and herbs. Picking crops you’ve grown yourself boosts the brain, creating a feelings of wellbeing, and providing tasty produce to feed the family.

Look for:

* Bedding plants like Begonia, Verbena, Petunias, Pelargoniums, Lobelia, Argyranthemum, Dahlia and Zinnia.
* Hardy perennials like Geranium, Echinacea, Anthemis, Phlox, Astrantia, Salvia, Penstemon, Monarda, Helenium and Heuchera.
* Shrubs like Hydrangea, Brachyglottis, Nepeta, Lavender*, Hebe, Choisya, Phormium, Cordyline, Yucca or climbing Clematis, Roses, Honeysuckle and Jasmine.
* Fruit and Veg like Strawberries, Tomatoes, Chillies and Peppers, Squash, salad plants and potted herbs.

*Lavandula species are listed by Defra as Xylella Host Plants of concern to the UK. For further information please visit the Plant Health Portal and read the latest High Risk Host list. Suspected cases of Xylella fastidiosa or any other non-native plant pest must be reported to the relevant authority. All Xylella host plants should be sourced responsibly.

INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE? WELLBEING GARDENING:

GARDENING FOR THE BODY, MIND & SPIRIT
https://permaculturenews.org/2013/06/05/wellbeing-gardening-gardening-for-the-body-mind-spirit/

RHS
Let’s get Greening Grey Britain!
https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/greening-grey-britain

RHS
HEALTH & HORTICULTURE CONFERENCE 2016
https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/Ornamental-Horticulture-Roundtable/health-and-horticulture-conference-2016

HOW TO GET VITAMIN D FROM SUNLIGHT
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-get-vitamin-d-from-sunlight/#

JULY IMAGE CREDIT - Petunia + Yucca in pot © Adam Pasco Media