11 Jul Can Gardening Improve the Nation’s Health?
That’s the headline on a recent BBC story on gardening which you can read here. Of course those of us that love our gardens already know the answer to that, we have been trying to get people back to basics for years and out into the fresh air to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of a lovingly tended garden. Last month the Kings Fund published a report extolling the virtues of gardening. Apart from the obvious benefits of being more physically active the report found evidence that gardens in care homes were found to be good for reducing agitation and aggression linked with dementia and younger people that were suffering with emotional and mental health problems also reported improvements when taking part in voluntary projects such as gardening.
With the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show opening its doors to the public last week the garden loving community at least enjoyed a brief diversion from the Brexit dominating headlines and found a time to relax if only for a short time among the beautiful gardens and floral displays on show.
Amanda Miller, who became a garden designer after a career in the military, built a garden at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show which aimed to convey the solitude of depression and was one of several gardens at the show exploring the link between health and gardening. The ‘Cut Flower’ garden was another space focussing on health and was designed by Carolyn Dunster and Noemi Mercurelli in memory of Katie Wohlrab who enjoyed her own cut flower garden during her battle with breast cancer. The garden also contained seed heads to encourage people to sow again next year.
As awareness grows of the physical and emotional benefits of spending time tending an outdoor space our hope is that more young people will be attracted to the industry as both a career in garden design or horticulture and also as a way of life. The immense pleasure that comes from picking and eating your own home grown vegetables is something that can be enjoyed from youth up and young children learn a great deal about nature, life and indeed patience and rewards from being involved in gardening at an early age.
If you are looking for some inspiration to get started in your own garden then do visit the flower shows that are scheduled throughout the summer up and down the country. It is at shows like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court that you will see new brands and new ideas which will whet your appetite and offer some direction if you need ideas. Here, the idea of the ‘room outside’, an addition to internal living space has been enforced for many years now. Long gone are the days when simple borders, rectangular lawns and carpet bedding were the staple of the British garden. Today the wish list of items to increase a sense of wellness when not at work is lengthy. Modern life comes with modern stresses and in some primeval way an outdoor lifestyle, albeit one in the confines of your own garden, no matter how big or small, helps create a sense of calm. The garden has become another room; a place to de-stress, relax and enjoy the company of friends and family. Plants are still important, and rightly so (I wouldn’t be a garden designer if it wasn’t for the plants) but there is so much more to a garden now then there ever used to be.