Gardening is a popular activity across the world. It’s an essential activity for many, particularly for its contribution to the environment and the curb appeal.
However, while the aesthetic benefits of gardening have been a focal point of the activity over the years, its therapeutic properties are now being noticed.
Experts from the Royal Horticultural Society argue that tending to your garden can help alleviate feelings of loneliness, The Telegraph reports.
Fostering Social Interactions in the Neighborhood
While attending a meeting concerning the upcoming Chelsea Flower Show in London, Jo Thompson, a horticulturist at the Society, explained to the news source that the front gardens of houses are prime for interaction as they present an opportunity to meet people passing by.
He explained that while at your front yard, you tend to hear conversations being spoken and also meet people walking around who could also share a common interest in the activity.
The sentiment was corroborated by Professor Tim Kendall, the National Clinical Director for Mental Health at the UK’s National Health Service.
“A garden is one of those things that can give people purpose and hope. Loneliness is a reality for all too many people. Some people can go days, weeks, and months without talking to friends and family. People suffer alone, and this can lead to drug misuse, alcoholism…. it can cause as much excess mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day,”
Kendall said to the Telegraph.
The Royal Horticultural Society further explained that the entire theme of the Chelsea Flower Show, which is set to hold between May 19 and 23, will feature extensive exhibits focused on promoting mental health.
Thompson himself worked on a “Friendship Garden,” which took cues from apartments based on Southern Europe that have balconies filled with bright flowers. As he explains, the proximity of these spaces makes it easy to converse with neighbors.
Sue Biggs, the Director-General of the Society, chimed in, explaining that they are looking to stir support for gardening and its mental health benefits among more people, hopefully in a bid to foster healthier communication and interpersonal relations.
An All-Round Therapeutic Solution
Of course, the prospect of healthier social interaction and eradicating loneliness is just one of the many benefits that gardening has. Psychology Today points to at least ten other benefits that could accrue from this activity, including but not limited to an ability to connect with others and to connect with your natural world.
The resource platform also highlights that people who practice gardening could also cultivate much healthier foods, thus improving their health and potentially extending their life expectancy.
Last May, the Guardian reported on Sydenham Garden, a London-based conservative and well-being center that boasts activity rooms, a natural reserve, and gardens.
Run by the Sydenham Garden City Trust, the site runs therapeutic gardening sessions weekly, with the help of trained staff and enthusiastic volunteers.
The center has become a recognized mental health rehabilitation spot, receiving over 300 referrals from healthcare professionals between 2017 and 2018.
Speaking to the news source, Director Tom Gallagher said,
“I know from our stats that people are going to get as good mental health benefits from us as talking therapies. On top of that, you can also get physical, social, and physiological benefits from gardening.”