Gardens hold a comforting space for peace and quiet, providing a dose of daily re-leaf from the busy world. Offering a moment to retreat from surrounding stressors, and even our own minds, to reconnect with the innate calmness of the natural world.
Plants, blooms, buzzing bees. The intricate texture of a leaf. With a growing number of studies showing time spent in nature is calming, restorative, and can enhance mindfulness, Greener Spaces Better Places is seeing the concept of nature as therapy being embraced by the healthcare sector which can inspire us to harness the healing power of our own garden (or any greenery).
Several hospitals in Australia are adopting and designing ‘healing gardens’ as a way to offer a space of solitude for their patients to find refuge, putting into practice research that shows being around nature can help speed up a healing process, with less pain experienced and shorter hospital stays.
In Brisbane, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital is well invested in this method, featuring eleven healing gardens for people to enjoy. As the hospital collects data on how the benefits are impacting those spending time in the garden through ‘bench diaries’ – where visitors can report their thoughts and feelings in the space – it’s clear users are experiencing a distinct sense of peace, calm, and restoration from the experience.
In Sydney, Blacktown Hospital has opened a sensory garden for dementia patients. Designed to engage with the unique needs of these patients, improving endurance and strength and reducing stress levels amongst other benefits.
In Melbourne, Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre uses a range of creative therapies including horticultural therapy based on the benefits provided in research. According to horticultural therapist, Toni Salter, “Gardening can be a great distraction from feelings of anxiety and can produce a rewarding end result. It helps to ‘stay in the moment’ and appreciate the process.”
The therapeutic benefits of gardens have inspired the creations of many other places around our cities – such as Wendy’s Secret Garden in Sydney, a junk-land turned thriving oasis, born from grief and into a pathway of immense healing.
All of these benefits are available to us in our own gardens and greened environments – all you need is a place to sit and take it all in.
You can harness the healing power of plants by creating your own space to sit with nature in view. Whether that is a corner of cushions on the balcony overlooking a little garden, a space to lay below the trees, or a park bench nearby, if you’re out and about. You can access a prescription of vitamin N(ature) all around you, and you’ll be amazed at what benefits it can bring.
Interested to know more on how to further reap the mental and health benefits of gardening? Check out this piece on the hidden highs of gardening.