I’ve always sensed that gardens have a magical quality. Perhaps this is why I’ve spent a lifetime visiting, studying, and designing them. Many are beautifully arresting while others, such as those focused on food, are highly productive. I’ve found some of the smallest or those assembled by ‘amateurs’ or enthusiasts to be some of this most compelling.
Gardens, because of their archetypal nature, resonate with all of us on a deeper level. Often I hear friends and gardeners speak to their time spent in the garden as their ‘therapy’. I experience the same when I can work among my plants, whether it’s seeding a new generation, pruning, or clearing beds after the first heavy frost. The essence of a garden is restorative and calming whether you are a passive or active participant. The word ‘wellness’ is a popular one these days, but I think it helps define what gardens can offer to those who spend time in them.
Our attraction to gardens is timeless and universal. I’d also say that we are drawn to them no matter our age, physical condition, or stage of life. The garden always has something to offer us no matter where we are on our journey.
For older gardeners the benefits of spending time in the garden are tremendous. Public or community gardens provide opportunities for socializing and meeting others with similar interests.
For active gardeners, exercise and stretching help to maintain flexibility, bone strength, and muscle tone.
The Gardens of Somerset
Sharing experiences and teaching others, especially young gardeners, about gardening and plants is one of my favorite aspects of gardening. It’s fulfilling to help someone other than yourself to be successful. For older members of our communities, it gives them a sense of purpose, well-being, and personal joy to share what they know with others. And, of course, when you grow vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers it’s always satisfying to share these bounties with others. Who doesn’t love to receive a bouquet of cheerful peonies or some vine ripe tomatoes? The gifting gardener benefits as much as the recipients of what they have grown.
The surrounding beauty, fragrance, and the sounds of nature found in a garden or natural landscapes restores us and are a source of hope and life-giving positive energy. It’s head-clearing just to be in nature and unplugged from the relentlessness of our overly programmed and tech-driven lives.
Recently there have been studies about the advantages of getting your hands into the soil, and these studies substantiate that it’s good for us. Apparently the millions of tiny microorganisms in a handful of soil interface with our bodies’ chemistry and produce a slight sense of euphoria and wellness. So, there seem to be direct and definitive physiological responses and benefits for all of us ‘ hands-on gardeners. This applies to gardeners of all ages. A big dose of HAPPINESS and CONTENTMENT in every handful of soil, who’d a thought?
Something the world could use more of.