Garden it Out

The Garden

As Joni Mitchell wrote and sang in 1969 for Woodstock, “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”


The benefits of gardening have been well-documented. As the American Horticultural Therapy Association notes, one of the first to document the benefits of gardening in the 19th century was the American Dr Benjamin Rush who was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and known as the Father of American Psychiatry. In the 1940s and 1950s, gardening was introduced into hospitals for war veterans. Certified garden therapists, or horticultural therapists, work with people in ‘therapeutic gardens’ for wellness, healthcare, rehabilitation, and healing in a multidisciplinary way that encompasses human science, plant science, and horticultural therapeutic techniques.

Therapeutic gardens are those that cater particularly for people with disabilities and specific needs that enable wheelchairs and assisted walking means, is purposefully designed to facilitate interaction – active or passive – such as wide and gently graded accessible pathways, raised beds and containers, interesting and eye-catching garden or landscape features (fountains, statues, wall gardens, rock gardens, etc.), and sensory-oriented plants that focus on colour, texture, and fragrance.

Gardens don’t need to be designed as ‘therapeutic’ to gain benefits – any plantings are good for the body and soul. Gardens can be backyard plots, balcony plantings, window sill plants, a single pot plant, rock pools, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, and wild landscapes. UNC Healthcare lists the following health benefits of gardening:

  1. Gardening can build self-esteem – connecting to the Earth, and nurturing living plants, provides a sense of accomplishment
  2. Gardening is good for heart health – not only does digging, planting, weeding, and tidying burn calories, the activities also work the muscles and heart, and produces sweat to clean the toxins out from the body
  3. Gardening reduces stress – and helps to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety by focusing the mind on a range of goals
  4. Gardening can induce happiness – there is a bacteria in soil, called M. vaccae that increases the levels of serotonin in the body – the ‘feel-good’ chemical
  5. Gardening can improve hand strength and hand-eye coordination
  6. Gardening is good for solo thinking and being, as well as social and cooperative, and good for the whole family
  7. Gardening can provide a Vitamin D boost – exposure to sunlight helps older people gain levels of Vitamin D which increases calcium in the bones and benefits the immune system
  8. Gardening to produce vegetables and crops can help people eat healthier meals – fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit and nuts, that haven’t been treated with pesticides, provides garden-to-table healthy food.

Gardening, even if a solitary activity, can lead to social encounters – talking about the plants that have grown, passing on excess fruit and vegetables to other people, and cooking meals for others.


Just plant something, nurture it (water it), and watch it grow. From seed or an offshoot, a seedling, or a sapling. Outdoors or indoors. There are a lot of gardening books, videos, apps, and magazines, and people with friendly advice on how to grow something.


You don’t have to have a garden to enjoy gardens, plants, landscapes, and Nature. Gardening programs, videos, magazines, and online searches have high readership – people not only want to know and learn about Nature, but they like to look at it. Looking at pictures and images of gardens can also be beneficial and therapeutic.


Gardening can lead to sunburn, joint pains, aches, cuts, bruises, bites, and other injuries. Use gloves and protective gear, as well as sunscreen if you are gardening outdoors.


Gardening does not necessarily address core issues.


“I love planting. I love digging holes, putting plants in, tapping them in. And I love weeding, but I don’t like tidying up the garden afterwards.” – Jamaica Kincaid

“I always see gardening as escape, as peace really. If you are angry or troubled, nothing provides the same solace as nurturing the soil.” – Monty Don

“I’ve always felt that having a garden is like having a good and loyal friend.” – C Z Guest

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn


DISCLAIMER: This website’s author does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems without the advice of a physician or psychologist, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, information provided here is not intended to replace readers’ existing or other medical, psychological, financial, or legal advice. The author’s intent is to offer general information to help readers in their quest for emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, guidance towards self-empowerment, and/or for entertainment purposes only. Rainy Day Healing and Martina Nicolls shall not be held accountable for any loss which may arise from any readers’ reliance and implementation of any information provided. For information on courses and personal consultations, see TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

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