A garden can be a sanctuary. A place to connect to yourself. A place to connect to the earth. A place to flourish and nourish. On a recent trip to Washington D.C., I was excited to tour the United States Botanical Gardens. An idea that George Washington had when he was president more than 200 years ago. Now celebrating it’s 10th year, it was so much fun to walk around and experience the plants and serenity that goes with a walk in nature. I wanted to share what I learned through that visit as well as some of my favorite photos from my own camera.
During that visit, there was a focus on what it means to flourish. Both inside and out. “To grow and develop in a vigorous and healthy way, especially as the result of a favorable environment.”
It’s called therapeutic horticulture. And the outcomes are mind-blowing.
According to research done by the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing, nature can do all these things:
Being in nature, including your garden, or even viewing pictures of nature can reduce anger, fear, and stress. It not only makes you emotionally feel better, but it also reduces your blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. And can you believe this?
Nature can help us cope with pain as we become absorbed into the environment in which we look, which can distract us from pain and discomfort. Studies indicate after surgery, the practice of looking at trees helped patients tolerate pain better when compared to looking at a wall. Less pain, better recovery, less time in the hospital.
In a funk? Step outside. Studies show moods are improved after spending time outside. Changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Boosting positivity and our ability to pay attention, nature is always intriguing and we are better able to focus when we are out in nature. I find it restorative when my mind just won’t quit. Setting me up for a refresh. As the University of Minnesota says, “the more green in your life, the better you will feel.”
When I spend time in nature, I feel more connected to myself, to who I really am. I also feel more connected to my family when we are enjoying nature together. That’s why I love gardening so much – it’s family connection time. Studies show that time spent in nature also connects us to the larger world around us. It’s like standing on the beach of the vast ocean and realizing we are all just like grains of sand. Individual, unique, and valuable when connected together. After all, countless grains of sand make up a beach. No one more important than the other. Nature unifies and builds community too. In fact, one study from the University of Illinois, showed how nature draws a sense of unity and community into a space, decreasing street crime, lowering levels of violence and aggression between domestic partners, and a improving the capacity to cope with life’s demands, especially the stresses of living in poverty. Trees literally created these relationships as they drew people out of their homes and into the community.
That’s why I want to encourage you to walk through your garden on Wednesdays. Walk thru Wednesdays. Of course, do it more often if you can, but if at least once a week you can take a few moments to take a look at the beauty all around you in your garden, yard, patio, the local park or nature center, you will be improving your health and well-being.
Any garden will do, a flower garden, a vegetable garden, your landscape or the local forest. I hope these pictures I’ve shared relaxed you – cheers to a balanced week.
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