During the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading magazines and books in waiting rooms and cafes. I came across even more examples of the wellbeing benefits of gardening. These weren't scientific articles, but stories told by gardeners themselves.
"You" magazine featured the story of Rachel Kelly who told how she used poetry and gardening to pull herself out of a terrible period of depression. Rachel described how getting into the garden activated a sense of hope and renewal within her, and got her looking forward to the future thinking about planted bulbs blooming, and strawberry plants fruiting. Observing changes in the gardening year also emphasised how positive changes take time to build.
A book by author Barney Bardsley tells her story, a year gardening to overcome the stress and grief of dealing with a husband dying of cancer and the loss of her Mum. Inspired by her mother’s gardening, Barney experienced a sense of freedom and soothing as she worked to turn a neglected allotment into her special place. The mix of fresh air, wildlife, exercise and observing nature’s cycles of growth and decay all provided solace.
Stan Hissey too talks about the discovery of gardening as a route through his depression that came on after suffering a stroke. Stan uses gardening as horticultural therapy to address his mental wellbeing in a way the NHS weren’t able to, “I feel fulfilled again” he said. He was helped to discover gardening for health through the national charity Thrive that aims to transform the lives of people through horticulture.
Gardeners World magazine undertook a survey of gardeners in the UK and discovered that 80% of gardeners felt satisfied with their lives compared to just 67% of non-gardeners in the general population.
What more evidence do we need that becoming a gardener is good for you?