December 13th, 2009
If you are a gardener then you will know that your garden makes you feel good. I know it gives me enormous pleasure and satisfaction. When I come in from a good day spent in the garden I may feel tired, but it is the right kind of tired – the kind that comes from physical work well done in the fresh air and in a place I love, not the kind that comes after a string of stressful meetings and a nightmare journey home in the traffic.
Gardens and plants in themselves are good for our health. Trees are the lungs of our polluted cities, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. They also take up and filter out a number of other serious pollutants in the atmosphere as well as protecting us from solar radiation. You and I can do our bit by planting suitable trees and shrubs in our gardens.
Our diet can be improved by growing some of our own food. I know my little vege patch encourages me to eat more vegetables, and there is something enormously satisfying, elemental almost, about feeding yourself in part at least from your own plot, and the fruits of your own labour. Yesterday I had one of Waddles & Hazel’s eggs poached in a nest of Swiss Chard from the vege patch. It tasted wonderful! You don’t need a huge amount of space either. Even in the smallest garden you can find room for some containers. Herbs are wonderful too fragrant and it gives an enormous pleasure to wander into the garden and take some fresh sage or rosemary to add to your cooking.
Gardening as an activity is also very good for you physically. It is a valuable form of exercise and works all the main muscle groups while giving your heart and lungs a very good workout too. I read an article once that stated that you can burn more calories per minute digging than you would do cycling and only slightly fewer than swimming! I don’t know if I would though with my form of pottering about in the garden. But it is a nice thought anyway. Still, after a day in the garden I sometimes have sore muscles the next day – so it must be doing some good. And unlike other forms of exercise which are an end in themselves and so can become boring very quickly, gardening has an end product. A product that you can touch and smell and feel!
Overall, the quality of life – including mental as well as physical health – is improved by spending time in the garden. Gardening is therapy and one of the best stress-busters that there is! Getting out into the garden after a hard day and pottering for an hour, or even just sitting there and looking around, is an ideal way to unwind. It is wholly absorbing – I often head out into the garden a loose all track of time. Usually a good thing, although this has gotten me into trouble at times. But I do know that spending time in the garden is a stress-free activity that forces you to slow down to the pace of the natural world, the pace at which we all lived until very recently in our history. It is a way of connecting to the natural earth. Being in a garden, surrounded by beautiful plants, calms the mind soothes and lifts the spirits. I hope you can find some time in your garden today.