Posts Tagged ‘garden therapy’
January 17th, 2010
A garden, any garden is surely one of life’s happy places. Just being in a garden provides joy and tending your very own garden, be it a pot plant or a back yard provides a creative outlet. In life it is the simplest of things that make us happiest. Standing in your garden – no matter how small – in the soft, early morning light on a hot summer morning is a perfect pleasure. Bringing out that early morning coffee to enjoy under the shade of a Chestnut tree and listening to birds and the sound of a little creek is relaxing and helps put any troubles into perspective.
I used to think that no season could surpass spring for anticipation and the joy of watching the garden come to life. But just this morning, while sitting with my early Sunday morning coffee the pure scent of gardenia washed over me and I noticed all the buds that had been ready to come out had bloomed and the perfume was amazing. The roses and lavenders are all full and lush and I have now decided that summer must be the most voluptuous season of the entire year! Mind you the true test of any garden or gardener is just around the corner – the hot dry February to come.
The creation of beautiful surroundings enhances quality of life in countless ways. The mental health value of gardening is well known to those who practise garden-making. Anyone who has worked or walked in a garden, watched plants grow or spent hours dreaming of creating a cool, calming oasis of beauty will attest to the emotional benefits of gardening. Time seems to slow when you are outside working with plants, and you slow down and relax also. I love working in my garden trying to create an enchanting retreat, a happy place, with plants.
December 22nd, 2009
Colour therapy is one of a range of complementary treatments gaining in popularity these days and, like many of them, it has in fact been around for thousands of years.
In Europe, colour was an important part of the doctrine of the Four Humours which was a cornerstone of medicine until the Renaissance. Each humour had its own colour. Phlegmatic was white, melancholy yellow, choleric black, sanguine red, and practitioners diagnosed imbalances in the humours by the colour of the complexion, the tongue and of body waste. Today colour therapy is a holistic treatment, like many complementary therapies, treating the whole person physically, mentally and emotionally.
Of course, you can use colour therapeutically in your garden, and while any colour you choose will be diluted by other colours, the one you choose as the main colour can stimulate or relax you, and generally enhance your feeling of well-being.
Red, for example, is the colour of energy, of love and passion, it is a stimulant. Orange is the colour of joy, of movement, and activity in general. Yellow, another warm colour, is optimistic and stimulating, but this time to the intellect. It helps concentration and the absorption of information. Green is the most balanced colour in the spectrum. Green is the colour of new life in the plant world and so has become a symbol of renewal and hope. It is also an optimistic colour, but peaceful and calming too, which makes it an ideal colour for relaxation and contemplation. As a balanced colour, it encourages balance in us. It counteracts stress, and is an ideal colour for gardens since it is by far the most dominant colour in the plant world. It is a calming colour which can be spiced up with the addition of red or made cool with touches of white
If you decide you want to use colour in a more controlled way in your own garden, you might find it helpful to do an analysis of the way it looks now. Are you happy with the way it looks? What about your containers? Are they a mixed collection of materials and colours? Painting them all the same colour will add unity to the overall look. Are there hot colours like red at the far end of the garden? Try moving them closer to the house and replacing them with blues and greys to make the space appear larger. Look at the garden at different times of the day. See where the sun falls at different times, and how the changing light afffects the colour. Look at the garden through the seasons too, this is where your garden diary can be a wonderful tool. But at the end of the day, use colour to please yourself and enjoy the colours of your garden.
December 16th, 2009
There is not many problems that an hour or two pottering in the garden won’t at least put into perspective. Often I will nip out into the garden for just ten minutes and find suddenly that several hours have passed, the kids have not been fed and the day has disapeared. Whoops! I find that gardening is one of the best antidotes to stress there is. Gardens and gardening counter stress in a number of ways. Just being in a garden or green space reduces stress levels.
The act of gardening itself is very beneficial too. First, it is physical activity, something that many of us who spend our lives at desks or slumped in front of the television badly need. Most of us live our lives at breakneck pace. The Internet means that much of our working lives happens in a heartbeat, we can do the shopping a 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon (just as well for me) but there is practically no down time any more. -But there is in gardening. Gardening slows us down to the pace of life as we were meant to live it. Gardening works in its own time frame, it will teach you patience.
Gardening brings you directly back into contact with the yearly cycle – it really is one of the only activities in this modern world that still does. When you garden you will notice the subtle seasonal changes – the buds beginning to swell, the first leaves turning colour – you cannot but be aware of the cycle of life.
Gardening is essentially an optimistic activity. When you plant a seed you are investing in the future. Gardening also gives you endless second chances. Ok, so something didn’t work quite as well as you had hoped, learn from it and move on. I find gardening to be very creative. I can’t paint or draw but in the garden I can create something visually beautiful. Or at least beautiful to me.
Growing plants also offers a relationship with something living, an opportunity to be nurturing, to feel needed. There is also an immense satisfaction to be had from seeing seeds that you have sown germinate and grow into plants. It is a sort of validation, it gives you a real lift.
So if you are feeling stressed out try a little garden therapy.