20 June 2016
Anyone who likes to get out in the garden on the weekend, probably already unconsciously realises this, but gardening is great for our wellbeing.
Some of the benefits of gardening include:
Reduced stress and lowered blood pressure
Improved mental health
Connection with nature
A garden provides a space to relax and unwind, appreciate nature, lose sense of time, forget daily worries and awaken the senses, not to mention if you grow a productive garden, you will have access to fresh, nutritious food.
Gardening for the senses
Angelo Eliades in his article Wellbeing Gardening – Gardening for the Body, Mind and Spirit talks about creating a sensory garden to engage all our senses and connect with nature. A sensory garden is not only great for adults but also children, as well as people with disabilities that affect their sensory responses. Here’s some tips on how to create a sensory garden at your place:
Sight - Use flowers and coloured foliage for visual interest. For foliage try cordylines or crotons and for flowers there is such an array to choose from, go and have a browse at your local nursery.
Taste - Include herbs and vegetables for use in the kitchen. Some easy growers include basil, parsley, rosemary, cherry tomatoes and chillies.
Touch - Add plants with interesting textures such as smooth, silky or furry leaves that make you want to reach out and feel. Try lamb’s ear for its fuzzy leaves, succulents for waxy leaves or the architectural fan palm with its corrugated leaves.
Smell - Incorporate aromatic plants such as mint and pelargoniums (geraniums).
Sound - Install a water feature for soothing noises and to block out the man-made sounds.
Then bring the wildlife in by adding a bird feeder to attract the birds, and the flowers will attract the bees. Most importantly though, create a nice spot for you to sit and relax. Not only does this create a lovely sensory garden but also a productive garden. It’s also important to note that this does not need to be on a large scale, this is achievable even in a small area or in pots.
Having plants in your house or office is not only great for your health and the air quality, but combine them with a nice pot and they make your space look beautiful. Some of the most popular indoor plants include the peace lily, rubber plants, zanzibar gem, and palms such as the kentia palm. If you want to get your inner designer on, then a fiddle leaf fig is a stunning indoor plant and part of the fun is trying to source one.
There are all manner of community gardens around Australia and we have a number of them on the Sunshine Coast. Not only do they offer all the benefits mentioned above, but being involved will also contribute to your social health. The Sunshine Coast Council has a list of community gardens in our area. We even have our very own community garden, called the Moving Feast community garden, here at USC Sippy Downs campus.
You don’t need to have a green thumb to get a garden started, put some cherry tomato plants in a pot and they will just keep growing, or throw your pumpkin scraps on the ground and next minute you’ll have pumpkins growing.
“I like gardening - it's a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself”- Alice Sebold.