At 105 years-old, Mattie Fancher is still involved with her garden. She celebrated her birthday last month and is still getting noticed for her yard on 32nd Street. She occasionally tours the backyard garden in a wheelchair and she doesn’t hesitate to give out expert guidance to landscapers weeding the gardens or pruning the trees.
You’ve heard of “pet therapy”? Most of us know that owning and loving a pet helps us live longer, lowers blood pressure and helps us deal with stress better. But did you know garden therapy does the same thing?
I love writing about gardening, but for me and many gardeners, it goes beyond just making your yard look nice. Gardening can touch one in a way they never expected, and can be a healing respite from all our issues, big and small. When I am I the garden, problems seem far away, and all I see is the simpleness of the soil and water, and the miracle of watching plants grow, and the lessons a garden teaches. I feel a kinship with the outdoors that I don’t feel anywhere else. I honestly think that the beauty of nature is a gift to help us appreciate life in small ways, to learn the lessons of trail and error, and to remember balance. Gardens can be a healing place, and it is my hope that is the true reason that gardening is the most popular pastime in America.
Not only is gardening healing and therapeutic both in the plants, herbs and vegetables the garden may produce, but also in the therapeutic value of planning, raising and caring for your own little miracle of nature.
Many herbs, flowers and vegetables have been used for hundreds of years as healing agents for disease and injury. Even today, the use of natural products is a multi billion dollar industry as people seek simpler and safer cures for what ails them. Fresh brewed herbal teas are a natural stress reliever. Aromatherapy be as simple as fresh lavender on your nightstand, straight from your own garden.
Home gardeners often grow their own vegetables to prevent the ingestion of dangerous chemicals by their families. Fresh vegetables can have double and triple the level of natural vitamins compared to store bought, and the fresh taste cannot be beat. You are free to grow a rare tomato that you would never even find at the local supermarket. And lets not forget, it saves money, and with the cost of fresh produce today, that is no small thing.
The emotional value of creating a piece of paradise has been proven useful in treating ailments from mental disabilities to arthritis. There is something curative about being in the sun, witnessing the miracle of simple plants and flowers and working in the earth that is healing and refreshing, and is being used to treat Alzheimer patients, mentally disabled kids, autism, breast cancer patients and those with addictions. Check out the great work our friends at Roses for Autism are up to.
Anxiety disorders and depression are commonplace in the world today, and the garden is a healing place for these issues as well. Gardening skills create a stress free environment to build self esteem, rest the mind and release tension. I dream someday of having such a garden for such a special purpose.
Explore the links below to gain information on growing your own healing plants, and also to learn about therapeutic gardens. Perhaps one could be started in your own community!