The happiness effect of gardens

ACCORDING to a recent survey by Candide - founders in 2016 of Garden Day, which is again celebrated this Sunday - 96% of people said they felt happier when spending downtime in their gardens.
The findings revealed that most popular garden activities were spending time in a favourite spot admiring plants, listening to birdsong and watching the wildlife, breathing in the fresh air and garden scents, enjoying a cuppa and a chat, taking me time with a quiet bite to eat, playing with the children, reading a book, or lazing on the grass.
But that’s not all that’s good about gardening and anyone from a newbie gardener to a gardening guru can benefit from the calming effects of mulching, potting, pruning or weeding. Here are 10 good reasons to get gardening:

Improves immune system
Spending time in the sun increases the absorption of vitamin D, which in turn helps the body absorb calcium to keep your bones and immune system healthy.

Burns calories
Gardening is hard work and can burn as many as 330 calories in one hour. Swopping your gym membership for gardening five times a week might be a very feasible idea.

Relieves stress
Gardening requires a lot of physical activity and helps to release a group of feel-good hormones (endorphins) which makes one feel relaxed and satisfied. Also, being outside in sunlight is an instant mood booster.
“It’s been proven that if you surround yourself with plants and flowers, you’re likely to be happier. I can attest to that,” says Wolseley-based farmer and Garden Day Flower Crown Ambassador Adene Nieuwoudt.
“My flowers keep me energised and enthusiastic. Garden Day is the ideal celebration to express this sentiment.”

Reduces the risk of stroke
Numerous studies have shown that gardening lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease, and can prolong your life by up to as much as 30%.

Improves diet and gut health
Several studies show that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers and people who grow their food tend to eat (and be) healthier.

Anger therapy
Ever wanted to get rid of that built up tension after a rough day? Simply doing some heavy digging or serious pruning can help you blow off some steam. Did we mention it’s free?

Creates a sense of responsibility
Growing and maintaining a garden creates a sense of responsibility, purpose and ownership.

Enhances the sensory system
Gardening engages all senses, like smelling fresh herbs, feeling the soil between your fingers and listening to the bees buzzing around the blooms. This is especially valuable for the development and education of young children as it stimulates their sensory awareness.

Channels your inner creative
Gardening helps inspire creativity and allows individuals to express themselves in unique ways. It offers an outlet to connect with oneself, one’s dreams and one’s passions by creating a space to reflect, nurture and grow. Being creative makes for happy humans. Garden Day Flower Crown Ambassador and award-winning interior designer Donald Nxumalo concurs.
“There’s an unhurried creativity that comes with gardening,” says Donald. “Typically, I’m racing against the clock, but on my balcony I can let the process evolve slowly. This balances and invigorates me. It inspires my design work.”

Stay connected
Community gardens bring people together and create a common purpose. Everyone has a need to belong. Being a part of a community fulfils this and with that comes a range of health benefits for the individuals involved.
These include increased feelings of happiness and contentment by making new friends, feeling fulfilled and having fun, counteracting stress and anxiety, protecting against isolation and feelings of depression, and providing a sense of purpose and mental stimulation
Another way to feel connected is to join fellow plant lovers for Garden Day’s first Virtual Garden Day Gathering. Sunday’s line-up includes a host of events, such as garden-inspired gourmet and a flower crown-off with comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout and TV and radio presenter Zoë Brown via Zoom and Facebook Live.
Visit Gardenday.co.za/Events for the final programme and further details.
Catch news, updates, inspiration and a ‘how to’ flower crown making video at @GardenDaySA on Candide, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Tag your posts with @GardenDaySA and #GardenDaySA to share your green celebration with friends, family, and fellow plant lovers online.