While we are all currently spending much more time at home, it is more important than ever to find simple and positive ways to relax and feel happy. Gardening – outdoors or in – is a great mood boosting exercise, with proven benefits for mental and physical wellbeing.

Gardening keeps us active, encourages social interaction (yes, there are still safe ways of doing this right now) and, if you have a garden to enjoy, it harnesses the positive effects of spending time outside.

A recent survey commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society reported that more than half of adults enjoy being surrounded by greenery and a further 53% said it boosts their mood.

Likewise, a 2019 survey by Arboretum indicated that 42% of 2,000 participants said that being around plants improved their mental health. The figure was even higher in London, where 56% of people said plants make them happier.

So how do plants help our mental health blossom?

Simply focusing on a task in hand; weeding; pruning; planting; gives us a positive purpose and detracts our minds from wandering. Gardening helps us become accepting of factors outside of our control; helps us learn new facts and skills; offers a shared interest to discuss with others; helps us connect with nature; and generally enables us to ‘switch off’ from other pressures and worries. Some of these themes are explored more widely by Psychology Today  

Online orders to local nurseries and garden centres, observing contact free deliveries, will help support them economically during what should be their busiest season. Gardening is also a super home schooling activity for children, inspiring our next generation of gardeners to experience the joy of growing and creating beautiful green spaces.

From balconies and walls, to windowsills, and pot plants on desks, there are many space- saving and inventive ways to surround ourselves with greenery.

Re-purpose an old shoe organizer, or for plants that don’t have deep roots, gutters easily mount to a wall or balcony railing. Plants are the perfect way to bring greenery indoors, especially in urban areas. Grow herbs indoors on a windowsill or try growing citrus varieties: your room will smell amazing!
Studies have shown that interaction with indoor plants may reduce stress and invoke a soothing effect. They can help with concentration and memory and reduce pollution.

While we can’t visit a garden centre or attend a gardening group right now, gardening still gives us a great opportunity to engage with others and reduce isolation.
Why not have a chat to your plants? Silently or out loud, it’s really not as silly as it may sound. In a study performed by the Royal Horticultural Society, researchers discovered that talking to your plants really can help them grow faster.

Search for gardening forums online and share your questions and tips. Chat to friends on the phone about your latest gardening project and post pictures of your plants online. Or read a gardening book and be transported into a ‘green and pleasant land’.

National Gardening Week runs from Monday 27 April - Sunday 3 May 2020 and is the nation's biggest celebration of gardening.

And for those of us less inclined to get down and dirty, just forget the weeds – you’re feeding the bees! Enjoy your space and revel in the wildlife it supports.