“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
― Audrey Hepburn
I love gardening. Research shows that nurturing your green thumb has numerous benefits. Ranging from fitness owing to the physical activity involved in gardening, to the skin’s absorption of Vitamin D by being in the sun.
Benefits for Mental Health
Gardening is a mood booster, as it releases serotonin in the brain, making you feel generally happier for longer.
Sarah Rigby in a 2021 paper wrote that: “A new study indicates that people who garden every day have wellbeing scores 6.6 percent higher, and stress levels 4.2 percent lower than people who do not garden at all. According to the paper, gardening just two to three times a week maximized the benefits of better wellbeing and lower stress levels.”
In a 2012 experiment on horticultural therapy (HT) and exposure to gardens, Lee Y, Kim S – Int J Geriatric Psychiatry. (2008 May); 23(5):485-9, submitted that: “Gardening has been shown to have positive benefits for the elderly. Indoor gardening has been reported to be effective for improving sleep, agitation, and cognition in dementia patients. As a cognitive therapy, HT helps clients learn new skills and regain lost skills.”
Longevity in Humans
In certain areas around the world such as Okinawa, Nicoya, Icaria, Loma Linda, and Sardinia, where residents were famed for their longevity, it was observed that gardening was the predominant hobby of the inhabitants of these places.
Recovery from Disease
A survey revealed that humans in convalescent hospitals that had more plants and greenery generally recovered faster than those in hospitals without plants.
Air Purifying Properties in Plants
Other benefits of gardening include the air purifying properties of plants. Gardening is increasingly promulgated as one of the solutions to climate change. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Furthermore, some indoor plants absorb toxins, such as formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, carbon monoxide, and trichloroethylene from the air. Examples of indoor plants with air-purifying qualities are Peace Lily, Golden Pothos, Sansiviera, Philodendron, Aloe Vera, English Ivy, Chinese Evergreen, Ferns, Rubber plant, amongst others.
Gardening and Spirituality
The art of gardening fosters a nurturing spirit. It teaches one to be responsible for another.
Plants like all other living things are diverse in nature. Whilst some plants are heavy drinkers, some generally hate ‘wet feet’ and their roots begin to rot if a large quantity of water is fed to them over a period of time.
Some other plants thrive in full sunlight, while others want partial shade or partial light or would rather be indoors.
One who is committed to gardening must understand the peculiarity of each plant and must seek to ensure that it provides each plant with an enabling environment to thrive. Incidentally, this is how humans raise children.
Gardening teaches us Patience and Hope
Gardening requires patience. Indeed ‘burying a seed’, watering it daily, exposing it to sunlight, and all it needs to grow without knowing whether it would sprout requires courage.
Gardening fosters hope. Hope that tomorrow would be better, even if there are no signs of success today.
Gardening and Me
In my years of gardening, I find that my garden flourishes better when I take the time to speak to my plants, touch them and create an enabling environment for them to thrive.
I love to walk around my garden barefoot, connecting to nature. Gardening gives me a deep sense of purpose and clarity on the interconnectivity of life.
I love Gardening. I hope you do too.
– Reflections of an HSP