I will preface this blog post by saying that I am NOT a gardening expert, so if you are looking for how to tips then this is the wrong post.
However, if like me, you were not a fan of gardening, then do read on, because it might help you find some positives for you and or your children if you are trying to introduce gardening as an activity.
I am not a gardener, in the sense that I don’t value it as a hobby or enjoy it to the point where I would choose to do it, over other things. I know people who are and I wish I was more like them. I prefer to cook, or bake, or knit.
I find gardening for pleasure rather relentless and unending. I loathe weeding, and dealing with grass and it’s issues. I don’t enjoy the constant battle to keep a garden neat and tidy. I love flowers and plants that look pretty but frankly, if they need more input than my children to thrive then they don’t get my attention.
Our garden is not carefully manicured or one of those spaces that would qualify for a local garden show. Whilst I love beautiful gardens, I just don’t have it in me to enjoy the effort. I prefer other people’s gardens for that. I do have a good record with indoor plants and grow orchids and cacti happily but don’t expect me to propagate a bed of marigolds to horticultural standards any time soon.
However, I recently discovered that gardening can actually be quite cathartic when you are doing it for practical reasons or you need to do some hard work to make your garden space habitable and useable. The hard physical labour in a garden is something I have found I enjoy and am quite good at. Hacking back and tidying bushes. Heavy weeding. Minor tree surgery. Planting. Mowing the lawn. All require effort and are productive. They are also good physical exercise which in turn is good for my mind.
Why is gardening good for you?
It’s common knowledge that exercise is good for you. The NHS considers it essential to living a healthy and fulfilling life and it’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.But lesser known is the role that gardening can play in helping to keep you fit and healthy. Gardeners might be delighted to learn that the number of calories burnt from 30 minutes of gardening is comparable to playing badminton, volleyball or practising yoga. (RHS Wisely)
There’s growing evidence that gardening can benefit our mental health, an important consideration at a time when the NHS is stretched and one in four adults are experiencing mental illness.
Research in Sweden*, for example, found that the more people used their gardens, the fewer incidents of stress they suffered.
A report in the Mental Health Journal* cited gardening as being able to reduce stress and improve mood, with a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
While gardens can be relaxing, they can also be places where our efforts result in a real sense of achievement, boosting confidence and self-esteem. (Thrive.org)
There’s also good evidence that just looking at a green space has positive effects on people’s mental health, helping them relax and de-stress.
Whilst I am not a pretty landscape gardener, I do like our garden to be tidy and useful. I also think gardening is an excellent activity for children, to learn about plants, animals, how things grow and also to be more eco-aware. There is something quite satisfying about planting seeds and nurturing them to grow.
Gardening is also an excellent activity for children. It is therapeutic, educational and also encourages creativity for them, as well as bringing the benefits of health and mental health than it does for adults. Teaching children how to grow their own plants, nurture, and care for them, learn about the food they can grow, how to care for gardens and nature is important, particularly in the current climate crisis we face. It’s also a brilliant way to get them outside into nature. It can also help with hand-eye coordination and brain development too. If you don’t have a big garden, don’t panic. Windowboxes and small portable greenhouses work. We also have a scheme locally to use where kids can help at local allotments and many schools cover gardening as part of their curriculum. Children who are actively involved in gardening apparently also are more likely to perform better at school.
So despite it not being my favourite thing, I am embracing gardening as something that is good for us and I am quite enjoying the hard work, and the effort it is taking as well as the satisfying results. Maybe I will be a gardening convert after all.
Adds new gardening gloves to birthday wish list…