A pioneering study by Loughborough University and Britains leading therapeutic horticultural charity, Thrive, has found that gardening can have positive effects on the physical and mental health, wellbeing and social skills of vulnerable adults.
Tim Spurgeon from Thrive commented, "This research shows that horticulture and gardening can no longer be treated as trivial activities they are comparable to any other physical therapy."
As well as the natural benefits of connecting with plants and the earth, gardening involves a range of movements which build flexibility, endurance and strength. Whether you are potting, planting, or raking and gathering leaves, as long as you do it in a relaxed fashion you will build up fitness, flexibility and endurance.
You can have a garden almost anywhere outside, on a balcony, or on a kitchen windowsill. As long as there is natural light and water and a suitable selection of plants, your garden will thrive. There is nothing quite like waiting for a plant to flower or fruit, or watching seedlings grow.
Caring for your garden is a creative, life-enhancing activity that will lift your spirits every day.
Do you love the taste of fresh sweet basil or the idea of cooking with your own oregano? If you are new to gardening, starting a herb garden is a satisfying and cost-effective way to green your thumb. It is a good idea to start with something manageable so you can discover the pros and cons of where you live, and also discover whether you like taking care of a garden, as most gardens do require regular care.
As most nursery workers know, customers want to buy something that lasts all year round, looks great, and doesnt need too much care. Choosing the right selection of herbs can achieve all these goals and give you wonderful, flavoursome produce for your cooking.
Ask your nursery about the best combinations of herbs. Most herbs can be grown together, but some, like rosemary, do better on their own, requiring a drier environment than basil, parsley and oregano.
Some safety tips for gardening. Make sure you are aware of how to lift and bend, using your body in the safest way. You should always bend your knees as you lift and never bend directly from the waist.
If you are using potting mix, make sure that you wear gloves and cover your mouth with a mask, as potting mix is sometimes associated with legionnaires disease.
Another first garden option is a sensory garden one where colours, textures and sounds are highlighted to make your garden a haven for sensory experience and wellbeing. Begin by visiting local gardens or parks to learn about the types of plants that enhance sensation.
Some botanical gardens have specifically developed sensory gardens for the elderly or for people with disabilities, filled with colour, sight and sound experiences to bring inspiration, pleasure and comfort. Building a sensory garden, or transforming your garden into a sensory experience, is as enjoyable in the process as the finished product.