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A Guide to Creating a Healing Garden

Stand outside momentarily, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. 

Now imagine this: a beautiful garden; trees with lush green leaves filtering out rays of warm sunlight, beautiful flowers with their rejuvenating and joyous scents, herbs and vegetables growing gracefully in your vegetable patch adding to the aromas in the air, and the chirping of birds and faint buzzing of bees bringing your entire garden to life. 

If your imagination can bring about such internal peace, imagine how a real garden will benefit you! 

 Some healthy lifestyle habits can lead to less pain and inflammation, more energy, and a longer lifespan. These habits not only benefit our physical health but also our mental and emotional well-being. 

While developing habits may take some time and effort, the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle are well worth it in the long run. With consistency and persistency, it is possible to create healthy habits that support our overall health and well-being. 

It is important to identify cues that trigger unhealthy habits and find ways to modify those cues to create healthier habits. For instance, if you tend to snack on junk food in the afternoon when you feel tired, you can replace that habit with a healthier one by going for a walk or having a healthy snack like fruit or nuts instead.

Garden therapy

Gardening helps reduce stress, restore hope and promote your overall well-being and can be considered an alternate therapy. It has been proven that being close to nature aids in physical, psychological and spiritual upliftment and decreases the prevalence of ‘lifestyle diseases’, including depression and anxiety, heart disease, stroke and obesity. Gardening can increase your life satisfaction, vigour, cognitive function, and sense of community. In some studies, horticultural therapy has even positively affected persons with dementia. All places of healing, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities have therapeutic gardens. Even prisons have gardens for the mental well-being of their inmates. 

Create your garden

The first step to creating your garden is planning and designing your garden. Your space must be accessible where your ‘fruits of labour’ can be touched, smelled and tasted without any hazards nearby. A handrail in strategic places may be a great idea if your strength or even sight is not at its optimum level. 

Know how the sunlight passes over the designated space, assisting you in choosing the most adequate plants that will flourish in your garden. Consider your 5 senses and how you wish to awaken them when selecting plants and strategically place them in your garden to experience that sensory journey. 

Sight

Lots of green and shades of green bring about a gentle relaxation. Adding vibrant and bright colours will make for a happy, energetic garden. Shades of blue and pastel colours suggest a calming, peaceful and restful aura. 

Touch

Raised garden beds make reaching and planting flora or vegetation easier. Avoid thorny, sharp, pointed plants that cause skin irritation, but consider plants that can medically aid you, such as Aloe Vera. 

Smell

The scent captures your attention from afar and can sometimes remind you of specific times in your life. Choose plants with scents that stir up joyous, carefree and happy emotions.  

Certain flowers have highly fragrant scents, such as Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Gardenia and Violets, to name a few, which are known to stimulate different emotions and feelings within. Remember to separate the various scents with neutral plants in between. 

Taste

Adding an herb or vegetable section can significantly enhance not only your cancer journey but also the journey of your tastebuds. Not only do you gain the peace and joy of growing your own produce, but you also gain the health benefits from the produce grown in your garden. You get the freshest produce on the market. It does not get any fresher than this! 

Sound

A garden will attract the birds and the bees and other insects too. Add a birdbath or water trough for nature to consume from. A fountain will also enhance the characteristics of your garden. Besides the sounds of animal and insect life, you will hear the rustle of leaves in the wind and the pitter-patter of rain as they resonate differently with your garden’s various flora. 

Garden hazards

  • Low overhanging branches near paths. 
  • Hanging baskets at head height 
  • Sharp turns sharp walls and raised bed edges. 
  • Uneven paths. 
  • Thorny plants along the edges. 
  • Loose stones and exposed tree roots 
  • Slippery surfaces, wet wood and moss 
  • Tools lying around and not in their allotted space. 

Effects of gardening on the mind and body

The combined effects of physical activity, social interaction, and exposure to nature and sunlight provide many benefits, incorporating each aspect into a healthy lifestyle. 

Physical activity enhances your living by aerobically working your body, building strength and stamina, and maintaining good organ functionality. 

Sunlight increases vitamin D levels and lowers blood pressure. Just remember to put on sunscreen and wear a sun hat when outdoors. 

As an added benefit, gardening will reduce your carbon footprint and counteract air pollution, so you are benefitting personally from gardening and helping everyone else around you in the world. 

Embrace the blossoming beauty of the new season and let your garden be the canvas where nature paints its masterpiece. Get out there, get your hands dirty and let spring times magic take root in your garden. 

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. 

References

Garden Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Gardener:
https://www.thegardener.co.za/the-gardener/garden-design/garden-therapy/
 

Gerber, C. (2020, March 05). The Benefits of Therapeutic Gardens. Retrieved from verywellhealth:
https://www.verywellhealth.com/therapeutic-gardens-1094682
 

Masashi Soa, K. G. (2017, March). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. sciencedirect, Volume 5, Pages 92-99. Retrieved from sciencedirect:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401?via%3Dihub#s0075
 

Thompson, R. (2018, June). Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening. Clinical Medicine, Pages 201-205. Retrieved from ncbi:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6334070/
 

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