Gardening is a fun, fulfilling and flexible hobby that has the (flower) power to transform lives, regardless of age or mobility. Researchers have found that just two hours a week in nature helps to promote health and wellbeing, so it’s hard to say ‘no’ to a pair of gardening gloves and a trowel. Better yet, you don’t need a sprawling outdoor area or glorious sunshine to practice gardening; simply having a balcony, patio or a special space for house plants can be enough to experience the joy it can bring.
As a nation, we’re nurturing nature like never before, with Google searches for gardening peaking during lockdown as we sought hobbies to enjoy at home and found outdoors activities limited. So, we’ve compiled a list of six top reasons why gardening is good for the soul.
1. Gardening… provides a sense of purpose and achievement
Cultivating and maintaining a garden, no matter how big or small, is highly rewarding. From preparing the lawn, to watching your seeds grow or flowers flourish, the process takes patience and dedication but is wonderfully worth it.
Decorating your home with beautiful blooms and enjoying fresh produce is sweeter still. Whether it’s fruit trees or herbs you’re growing, planting and consuming your own produce will feel so satisfying. Get adventurous in the kitchen and use your delicious homegrown ingredients in baking, then your gardening efforts will really have paid off! One inspiring lady who knows all about the process from first pick to plate is Stannah’s Baking Expert Val Stones who enjoys growing plums, garlic, potatoes and more.
2. Gardening… helps to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression
Gardening offers a wealth of mental health benefits. It lowers levels of cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone), improves attention span, plus reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Gardening is a hobby that requires a level of concentration which allows you to switch off and escape from any low feelings. Soil has been described as having antidepressant properties, with researchers finding that bacteria found in the earth helps to activate brain cells that produce serotonin, which is a ‘happy’ chemical. Who knew getting your hands dirty was so good for you? Give gardening a go for a natural ‘high’.
3. Gardening… improves physical wellness
Getting fitter needn’t necessarily mean running and push-ups; instead gardening can be quite the workout. From pottering around to pruning, digging and even watering, getting green-fingered strengthens your muscles and improves your balance, aiding mobility. Getting rid of those pesky weeds may feel like a chore, but it really will get the heart pumping and the calories burning. Better yet, it’s a physical activity that is suited for all abilities. So, no matter how little or much you can physically do in the garden, you’ll feel good for it. On a sunny day, exposure to Vitamin D will help to keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy. As the colder, darker months draw closer, make the most of daylight hours with a re-energising potter in the garden. When the wind or rainclouds appear, the crisp air can be revitalising too.
4. Gardening… is a sensory experience that sees you at one with nature
Gardening is a dynamic activity which offers the opportunity to engage all the senses. This is particularly important for cognitive stimulation as we age, to prevent the onset of conditions like dementia. From the sound of birds singing happily, to the sweet scent of lavender, to the smooth texture of petals or crumbling soil between your fingers and even the taste of your own homegrown produce – gardens are sensory heaven in which you’ll appreciate your surroundings and nature more than ever. Revel in the joys of nature indoors too; walking into a room fragranced with fresh flowers is heavenly and a stylish house plant can enhance your décor.
Try planting bee-friendly plants and installing bird feeders to encourage local wildlife – you’ll quickly see how popular your garden, patio or window box becomes! In turn, you’ll develop a stronger connection to nature and take pride in knowing you’re helping the birds, bees and friends.
5. Gardening… is therapeutic
Spending time gardening is calming, with the responsibility of taking care of plants found to reduce agitation, improve sleep quality and provide greater peace of mind. Gardening allows you to transform your outdoor area into one of tranquility and serenity. To truly create a sanctuary, set up quiet spaces where you can comfortably relax – whether it’s setting up garden furniture or investing in a parasol to shield you from the sun, so that you can safely spend hours soaking up your blissful retreat. You’ll deserve it after your hard work. Situating a water feature in your green haven will also enhance the sense of peace. Swap out the sofa for a swing chair and spend time relaxing in your garden in the fresh air.
6. Gardening… adds a new string to your bow
Not only can gardening provide real fun and happiness, but it’s also a lovely way of acquiring and learning new skills. Practice makes perfect, and while you may not feel like a green-fingered guru straight away, in time you’ll develop your gardening know-how. Why not enroll in horticulture courses or workshops, such as those offered by the Royal Horticultural Society? You’ll likely meet fellow gardeners who you can learn a thing or two from, and vice versa. If you have a green space at home, consider signing up for an allotment. Here you’ll meet a community of like-minded gardening enthusiasts to befriend.
Gardening offers fantastic physical, mental and social benefits so you can keep on being you. A wise man once said 'gardening adds years to your life and life to your years’ - so what’s stopping you?