The last week of April is the RHS-led National Gardening Week, which is described as the country’s biggest celebration of gardening. The RHS call on gardeners throughout the country to use gardens or balconies as a tool to look after both their physical health, and their mental wellbeing.
Gardening is a great mood-boosting exercise, especially important for those spending more time indoors at the moment, which of course is the majority of us. It is also a great way to keep fit, whilst being able to gaze at the glorious colours and shapes, and the wildlife that is around us. We’ve really noticed the lovely birdsong at the moment for example, with the lack of road traffic.
We hope that those of you who don’t have your own garden are able to enjoy some restorative walks and find some communal green spaces nearby your home to catch some nature when you can.
It can be really empowering and joyful, as well as a good challenge, to grow your own fruit and veg, and many gardeners have been turning parts of their gardens into an ‘allotment’, or even just a windowsill over to some herbs and smaller plants. It means that gardens can become useful as well as beautiful.
If you have children, this can be a great time to get the younger generation into the experience of planting, weeding and watering and help them to understand the process of growing plants and tending to a garden. Children really enjoy getting dirty in the garden and their excitement at seeing something growing that they have planted is wonderful to see.
Scientists have proved time and time again that being surrounded by greenery and experiencing nature is mood enhancing. Nature is constantly shifting and starting to ‘really’ look at it and experience its changes (the frost in the morning, the mist lifting, the spring awakening) can be so restorative and uplifting. A study of more than 340,000 people in the Netherlands revealed that those living without easy access to a green area were 33% more likely to suffer from depression and 44% more likely to be affected by anxiety disorders, compared to those who were within walking distance of a natural environment. Exposure to nature can lower stress and improve mood, and has even been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Also, the other good news is that gardening is good for your microbiome! Garden soil is packed full microbes and may help to increase our microbiome diversity. As we all know, the more diverse our microbiome is, the better for our health.
If you are unable to get out, perhaps look at ordering some seeds and soil online so that you can get growing. You can either plant some pots outside, or tend to your existing plants in your garden. Maybe plant some herbs to enhance your cooking, or buy a house plant to ‘green up’ a room in your house.
In these unsettling times, it’s so helpful to use the power of nature to help us to relax and bring some happiness into our lives.