Wellness gardens

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

It’s that time of year once again when the flower gardens and most of the pollinator friendly companion plants in the vegetable garden have bloomed and are in need of some attention.

In the ornamental flower gardens I try to “dead head” or trim just the spent flowers off the plants following a full flush of beautiful blooms. Hopefully, just in time for a second showing of all their beauty. I also do some minor trimming if needed and inspect closely for any pests or signs of stress, which could lead to a sick plant, which in turn invites disease into the garden.

When I walk through a garden I can feel my cares slip away and a cloak of undefined ease and well-being wraps itself around me. Since preoccupying a majority of my spare time with gardening I have been able to decrease my blood pressure to a healthy level and maintain it without the aid of medication. I have unknowingly created wellness gardens all around my home. Varied spaces of different materials and plants essential to my well-being that have a positive effect on concentration and memory, happiness, energy, healing and much more.

Have you ever walked into the lobby of a large corporate office building, one with tall glass windows for walls and filled with tropical plants and flowers? If you have I’m sure that you immediately felt the difference between that building filled with light and living plants and a smaller, darker version of an office building devoid of plant life and energy.

There is much science to back up the health and well-being benefits of plants and incorporating them into the business setting. Plants in the workplace can increase memory retention (studies have shown up to 20 percent) and concentration. Flowers generate happiness and are soothing, they reduce a person’s perceived stress levels making them feel more relaxed and happy. Spending time around nature increases energy levels in turn increasing people’s performance levels and making them better at doing their jobs. Research has also shown that people who spend time around plants learn better.

Recently I visited an adult extended care center. I was immediately impressed with the many different gardens that were incorporated into the grounds both indoors and out. They had an outdoor patio for dinning surrounded by a multi-tiered garden, a courtyard that could be viewed from the main hall and inner lobby, and many other small planting vignettes that could be viewed from the resident’s rooms. All impeccably maintained.

Science has proven that the presence of plants in medical spaces and hospitals help patients to heal quicker and experience less stress. Caregivers also benefit from the presence of plants and flowers in the medical setting, research has shown that plants affect the levels of compassion that people feel for others. Studies have proven that people who spend time around nature have an increased positive outlook on life and better mental health which also affects how the body heals.

People’s perceived quality of life is directly impacted by well-maintained gardens and natural landscapes. We naturally associate beautiful natural landscapes with a higher quality of life. Neighborhoods with beautiful parks that value their natural spaces tend to have less crime and a tighter knit residential community.

Gardens and natural spaces affect us in our daily routine more than we consciously realize. Wellness gardens can be planted almost anywhere and the benefit to our health and well-being is immense and priceless.

Dawn Conrad can be reached at conrad.gardenmuse@gmail.com or fb.me/Conrad.gardenmuse.