“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn
Gardens, parks and other green spaces are sanctuaries to escape the daily stresses of life. The sense of wellbeing that they provide is well rooted in history.
In Egyptian civilization, royals were advised to take a walk in the garden in order to relieve stress. The original purpose of the now infamous Central Park in New York City, designed in the early 19th century, was to offer the urban dwellers of New York an experience of the countryside. A place to escape. Over 150 years later, the park still provides this essential purpose.
Central Park, New York City
Despite the fast paced world we live in today, amongst increasing concrete buildings, traffic and noise, we can see a renewed interest in gardening.
This interest has been largely driven by an increasing aging population. However, more and more young people are taking to the wonders and benefits that gardening or planting can provide.
Here are a few of the benefits that gardening or planting can provide to one’s wellbeing:
Gardening activities such as pulling weeds and planting flowers can burn around 200 to 400 calories per hour. Mowing the lawn can burn around 250 to 350 calories per hour.
Without realising it, as you perform a hobby, which you may very much love, you are lifting ,stretching, bending and twisting your body. All of this movement can help to build your body strength and engage plenty of muscle fibres.
Exposure to Vitamin D
Sunshine aids with the absorption of vitamin D, which in turn helps the absorption of calcium. Calcium keeps our bones strong and our immune system fortified. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have heard several medical professionals recommending the intake of vitamin D supplements to help boost one’s immunity.
Mood Boosting Benefits
A report in the Mental Health Journal stated that gardening reduces stress and improves mood, with a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
An Effective Tool in Rehabilitation or Addiction
When people are recovering from an addiction, for example to drugs or alcohol, they are very often encouraged to start a new hobby. This will help to fill extra time, provide a distraction from cravings and help to prevent relapse.
Gardening can be such a hobby. It can provide a sense of focus, discipline and a feeling of achievement and self-confidence.
Sense of Empowerment
Gardening and planting provides a sense of purpose and is highly rewarding. It sows patience and self-discipline. The fruits of one’s labour can be seen over time.
"Gratification with gardening, unlike most other things in today’s world, is not instant. One has to wait for months or even years from seed to fruit".
This waiting time adds to the sense of achievement, the end result is greatly satisfying and one is left with a gratifying sense of empowerment resulting from the labour, love and care put in and rewarded.
One does not necessarily need a large space to potter around in. With the amount of information widely available on the internet, self-teaching is easy and options abound for using every type of space for gardening.
For those who want to take up courses, these are also available. For your perusal, I have listed a couple of places where you can find such courses - click on the links in the references section below.
Remember, as the Chinese proverb goes - "Life begins the day you start a garden".
1. Mental Health Review Journal, 2013
2. The Well Gardened Mind - Rediscovering Nature in the Modern World by Sue Stuart Smith