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Why Gardening is Good for Your Health

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(Adapted from Steve Whysall, The Vancouver Sun, February 1, 2013)

Charlie Hall, professor in the department of horticultural sciences at Texas A&M University is one of the most influential leaders in horticulture in North America today because of the detailed research data and verifiable scientific work he has done to nail down precise data about the benefits of gardening.  Over two years, he gathered more than 400 research documents showing the benefits of gardening and other aspects of the horticultural industry.Here are just a few of his key findings:

  • People are able to concentrate better in the workplace or in the home and have better memory retention when they are around plants. Tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better with greater accuracy. Spending time in nature gives people an increased feeling of vitality, better energy levels and makes them feel more animated.
  • Research shows that kids learn faster when they are in a green environment. Those with attention deficit disorders have longer attention spans when they are in a natural gardenlike environment as opposed to a sterile, concrete classroom.
  • Gardening can act as therapy for people who have undergone trauma. The act of nurturing something is a way for people to work through the issues surrounding traumatic events and improve their mental health.
  • Residents are more likely to exercise if there is a community park or landscaped area nearby. Exercise improves their health through physical fitness which can cut health care costs.
  • Simply by landscaping a formerly crime- ridden park, a community can be transformed into a safe and friendly neighbourhood environment. Parks also give people a reason to come together and become a tight- knit community.
  • Beautiful parks and landscapes enable communities to reap benefits from ecotourism. “In this new green environmentally- conscious era people are becoming more interested in exploring the beauty of nature while maintaining its integrity. Botanical gardens and other public gardens and green spaces should be supported without hesitation by local government.
  • Studies show that people who spend time cultivating plants have less stress. Having flowers around the home and office greatly improves people’s moods and reduces the likelihood of stress- related depression. Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help people feel secure and relaxed.
  • The presence of plants in hospital recovery rooms and/ or views of esthetically- pleasing gardens help patients to heal faster, due to the soothing effects of ornamental horticulture.
  • People who spend extended lengths of time around plants tend to have better relationships with others. This is due to measurable increases in feelings of compassion, another effect of exposure to ornamental plants. Studies also have proven that people who spend more time outside in nature have better mental health and a more positive outlook on life.
  • Maintaining parks and botanical gardens is a crucial contribution to the sustainment of biodiversity in local communities. Biodiversity is crucial to human affairs because it affects the balance between ecosystems.