Gardening for the soul

24 June 2013

The reaction of people on coming into my garden for the first time is often “it’s so peaceful”, and they couldn’t say anything which would please me more. I do enjoy the compliments on the flowers and the colour, but it’s even better to know that the feeling of spiritual uplift I get from the garden communicate itself to others.

Bed of yellow, orange and blue flowers 2009 - I find these colours very uplifting. The yellows and oranges are varieties of French marigold, the blue is cornflower, the spiky white is anthrrhinum and the lower white is chrysanthemum 'snowcloud'.

Bed of yellow, orange and blue flowers 2009 – I find these colours very uplifting. The yellows and oranges are varieties of French marigold, the blue is cornflower, the spiky white is anthrrhinum and the lower white is chrysanthemum ‘snowcloud’.

Linked to this, I was pleased to read in my latest magazine from the charity  “Garden Organic” that horticulture is coming into the national curriculum. It scares me that so many people are growing up with no connection to the land, to nature or to the species with which we share this planet. Nobody is going to value and protect something if they know little about it and feel no connection to it – but protect it we must, or we shall harm ourselves.

Research has shown that contact with nature has a definite therapeutic effect; it’s even got a name: ecotherapy. Gardening has also been proved to help people with mental health problems, and some charities set up nurseries to allow such people to learn about and enjoy growing plants (so if you’ve got a local plant nursery like this, please support it; Chestnut Nursery in Poole and Cherry Tree Nursery in Bournemouth are two such organisations).

Garden in 2012 - lots of plants!

Garden in 2012 – lots of plants!

I look at the garden sometimes and try to analyze why it feels like it does. The conclusion I have come to is that it has a lot to do with it being a garden for plants and wildlife, not primarily a garden for people. When you come in the gate and look up the garden (past the patio) it is dominated by plants – no decking, no structures for sheltering humans, not even any lawn which exists for human use. A neighbour once said she like my garden because you walked through it and not round it, and again, this is because plants take first place – it does get a little out of hand sometimes, mind you: one of the paths is virtually impassable at the moment because of a mass of hardy geraniums; I’ll probably chop them back, as there is still time for them to re-grow and provide some later colour, and there are a lot of different hardy geraniums out in the garden at the moment – to the delight of the bees and white butterflies.

Left: hardy geranium 'Claridge Druce' flopping over path. Right: bee on the same geranium.

Left: hardy geranium ‘Claridge Druce’ flopping over path. Right: bee on the same geranium.

Its seems that when you create a garden for wildlife you get paid back many times over in the sense of closeness to nature – peace – tranquility – spirituality – call it what you like, but it nurtures the soul.

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