The world is often a noisy place, especially in urban settings. Research indicates that noise pollution can cause harmful levels of stress, both physically and mentally, and that taking time to be silent in the garden is the perfect antidote to this, bringing huge restorative benefits.
It’s particularly calming to be silent in nature as there’s so much beauty to contemplate, as well as gentle sounds to tune into. This is something the charity ‘Silent Space’ aims to encourage. It’s adopted areas within public gardens such as Waterperry in Oxfordshire and Tremenheere in Cornwall in which people switch off their phones and stop talking between certain times.
The charity’s website references experts in this field, such as Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist and great believer in the power of silence for our wellbeing. In his book 'One Square Inch of Silence – One man’s quest to preserve quiet', Gordon says listening to the sounds of nature connects us to our evolutionary past where certain sounds would be clues to imminent weather changes, or spring birdsongs would signal the beginning of the growing season. He goes on to say, ‘Silence nurtures our human nature, and lets us know who we are. Left with a more receptive mind and a more attuned ear, we become better listeners, not only to nature but to each other’
Gardening is an inherently quiet activity, connecting us with the soil and seasons. So whether you’re visiting a garden with a designated silent space or simply tending to or sitting in your own garden, allowing yourself to be silent can help nourish you, mind, body and soul.