Body, soul and gardening - the giving gardener

Whether it’s sharing knowledge or produce, there’s something about gardening that brings out the generosity in people.  And the good news is that this benefits the giver as much as those on the receiving end.

In fact, research reveals that there’s a huge range of well-being benefits to being altruistic, from releasing the ‘happy hormones’ endorphin and oxytocin in the brain, to lowering blood pressure and stress.  So, simple acts of kindness towards friends and neighbours, such as giving away excess produce will make everyone feel good.  Most people like the prospect of home-grown fruit and vegetables, but you might prefer to leave a box of produce, if you’ve had a glut, on the pavement outside your house, or donate it to food banks via organisations like your allotment committee.

Sharing plants is another act of giving that helps you feel connected to others, which is important for good mental and physical health. Now is a good time to divide plants, and making a few extras to gift to visitors who admire the plant in your garden, can be hugely bonding - nurturing a plant and knowing it’s going to give someone else pleasure is very satisfying.  I have a neighbour who takes me over to her cuttings tray if I like a particular plant in her garden, or I might come home to the thrill of finding a little potted up plant left on the doorstep.  This creates a wonderful sense of community and a closeness to those who live near you, which is so good for us.

Another option is to volunteer your time to garden, often a sociable activity to do with others in your community, or offer your expertise and advice to friends and neighbours.  All these different ways of helping others will have a knock-on effect, making you feel happier in the process, so it’s win-win!