Go back through history and humans have always had an interest in gardening. Beautiful houses needed a stunning garden, with larger houses often employing many gardeners. The smaller spaces were used for vegetable patches to provide food and the larger spaces, to grow flowers, shrubs, and trees. These spaces provided areas of calm and relaxation, and that is still the case today.
Even when surrounded by the stresses of everyday life, the modern garden is often a sanctuary. Outside space is so beneficial for mental wellbeing and gardening can in fact help with both addictions and health problems. For those who don’t have an outdoor area, allotments are a great option too. They were originally introduced to provide food, but are now incredibly popular and often provide a place to escape to after a long day at work.
The growing and planting of seeds can be a slow process, as is the recovery from mental health issues. Getting down and dirty and digging soil is very physical and gives individuals little time to dwell on the stresses of life. When those first seeds emerge there is no greater joy, and this is when a nurturing journey can begin.
Watching any plant, especially vegetables, grow helps a person grow too. It helps them to develop patience, helps with anxiety, and ultimately, boosts their health and wellbeing. When you overcome any plant diseases through trial and error, so too will it help you to overcome feelings of stress. This is why gardening and health go hand in hand. Below, we’ve listed a few ideas for how you too can get involved in this rewarding pastime.
Gardening as medicine
We‘ve all watched period dramas with crinoline-dressed ladies, parasols aloft, strolling sedately around the grounds of large homes. Physicians realized the benefits of outdoor life on mental and physical wellbeing and the links between gardening and health many centuries ago. The genteel ladies of that era were not expected to do any physical work, therefore gardeners would be employed on the larger estates.
Gradually more ladies became interested in the plants and began to garden a little themselves. This led to fewer anxieties and reduced levels of depression, leaving gardeners and doctors understanding the benefits of outdoor activities on the mind.
Many elderly gardeners can be seen discussing these merits over the garden fence. There are many classes introducing people to garden therapy and encouraging the benefits of such activity. In the 1800s, an obsession with plants and outdoor space revealed the close links between gardening and health, both in clinical settings and beyond.
At many modern recovery centers, one focus is on ibogaine detox therapy, which is proven to assist those trying to overcome various drugs and other addictions. Ibogaine comes from the tabernacle plant, which grows in Africa, and has an apparent ability to reduce withdrawal symptoms for a lengthened period of time.
History of gardening and health
The ‘father of American psychiatry’, Dr. Benjamin Rush, was foremost in realizing the benefits gardening and health had on mental stability. Soon English and American doctors followed suit. Horticultural therapy was later used to rehabilitate injured soldiers from both World Wars, and there is some evidence of the methodology being used to support those injured in earlier conflicts too.
Horticultural therapy is known to provide both mental and physical help, from boosting memory and cognitive ability through strengthening muscles and enhancing coordination. It is often used in conjunction with other methods to aid recovery.
Benefits of gardening on mental and physical wellbeing
When it comes to gardening and health, there are a number of factors to take into consideration. Listed below are a handful of these benefits, which show how gardening can heal the mind, body, and soul.
- Addictions can be helped by gardening because it uses up time and focuses the mind on the task at hand.
- Group therapy is often used to help addiction but it’s found even that gardening alone can work just as well.
- Peace and quiet help a person to reflect on his or her lifestyle.
- Watching plants grow and thrive under an individual’s care reminds them to care for their loved ones and themselves.
- The slow steady progress of growing plants and vegetables can boost a person’s wellbeing.
- To not be enclosed indoors allows us to reap the benefits of fresh air, especially for those with lung issues.
- People often lack vitamin D, which the body needs to function, and being outdoors in the sunlight is a good source of this.
- Who needs a gym when a garden gives you plenty of physical exercise in the shape of digging, hoeing, weeding bending, and walking?
How to get started
You could start by finding a local gardening club, or go to the library where there are many books on beginner gardening. Information online is another way forward, but there is nothing like diving in and learning from your own mistakes. Today you can order an assortment of plants online, so you’ll be able to find what is just right for you.
Not everyone has an outdoor space, but most have a windowsill where a potted plant can be placed. Start by growing some herbs, which are both easy to grow and usable in the kitchen. Should you prefer flowers, garden centers, and online florists have an abundance of choices, many of which offer same and next-day delivery.
If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony, this is an ideal place to set up boxes for some vegetables and herbs. Better still, a backyard can become a wonderful area to place raised beds or large pots. You may be lucky and have a large garden but have no idea how to organize it or what plants to put where.
This is when an online florist comes in handy, especially as you can rest assured that all blooms and plants will be delivered directly to your door. When ordered before a certain time, you will even fall into the next-day delivery category, meaning you can enjoy the health benefits of gardening a little bit faster.
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