The healing power of gardening: How tending to plants can improve mental health

Geranium Russell Pritchard
Jasminum Officinale

Jasminum Officinale

In the midst of bustling cities and hectic lifestyles, finding solace in nature has become increasingly essential for mental well-being. Across the United Kingdom, a growing number of individuals are discovering the therapeutic benefits of gardening. From nurturing plants in communal gardens to cultivating green spaces at home, the act of tending to plants offers a profound opportunity for relaxation, mindfulness, and healing.

In a country renowned for its lush landscapes and picturesque gardens, connecting with nature is ingrained in our cultural fabric. Gardening provides a tangible way for individuals to immerse themselves in the natural world, fostering a sense of connection and belonging. Whether it’s sowing seeds, tending to flowers, or harvesting fresh produce, the act of engaging with plants can ground us in the present moment and alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

LAVANDULA STOECHAS

Lavandula Stoechas

Mindfulness and Stress Reduction:  Gardening offers a form of active mindfulness, allowing us to focus our attention on the task at hand and cultivate a sense of tranquillity. The rhythmic movements involved in planting and weeding, coupled with the sights and sounds of nature, create a meditative experience that promotes relaxation and stress reduction. Research has shown that spending time in green spaces can lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, leading to improved mood and overall well-being.

One of the most remarkable aspects of gardening is its accessibility. Whether you have a sprawling back garden, or a small balcony, there are many ways to incorporate gardening into your daily life. Container gardening and indoor plant care offer flexible options for individuals with limited outdoor space or mobility challenges.

Lippia Citriodora

Lippia Citriodora

In an increasingly fast-paced and digitally driven world, the healing power of gardening offers a much-needed antidote to the stresses of modern life. Individuals are rediscovering the joy of tending to plants and reconnecting with the natural world. Whether it’s nurturing houseplants or simply taking a stroll through a local park, the act of engaging with green spaces has profound implications for mental health and well-being.

Lomandra White Sands

Lomandra White Sands

In the lush green canvas of UK gardens, Lomandra White Sands, a spiny-headed mat rush, emerges as aLomandra White Sands unique and versatile grass-like plant, offering a distinctive charm to outdoor spaces. Known for its tufted, arching foliage and spiny flower heads, this evergreen perennial adds textural interest to British gardens.

Pruning and caring for Lomandra ‘White Sands’ are straightforward tasks that contribute to its well-maintained appearance. While this hardy plant requires minimal pruning, the removal of any dead or damaged leaves helps keep it looking neat and encourages new growth. With its adaptability to various soil types and preference for a sunny to partially shaded location, this spiny-headed mat rush is well-suited for a range of garden settings.

Lomandra ‘White Sands’ becomes a resilient and low-maintenance choice for UK gardeners seeking an ornamental grass that withstands the temperate climate. Its ability to thrive in coastal conditions adds to its allure, making it a versatile and visually appealing addition to British gardens. With minimal care and its unique spiny-headed aesthetic, this mat rush effortlessly weaves a touch of distinction into the fabric of UK landscapes, proving that grasses can indeed be both practical and picturesque.

Ribes Somerset White

Ribes Somerset White

In the enchanting realm of UK gardens, Ribes Somerset White, the white flowering currant, emerges as a captivating shrub, bringing a delicate touch of elegance to outdoor spaces. Celebrated for its cascading clusters of fragrant, white blossoms, this deciduous beauty not only graces the landscape with its charming blooms but also stands out as an excellent choice for hedging.Ribes Somerset White

Pruning and caring for Ribes ‘Somerset White’ are key to maintaining its hedging appeal and ensuring its overall health. Regular pruning in late winter or early spring helps shape the shrub and promotes denser growth, making it an ideal candidate for hedging. Remove any dead or crowded branches to enhance air circulation and stimulate new flowering shoots. This white flowering currant thrives in well-drained soil and prefers a sunny to partially shaded location, offering versatility in various garden settings.

As an attractive and fragrant hedging option, Ribes ‘Somerset White’ becomes a favored selection among UK gardeners. Its ability to provide both visual interest and a functional garden boundary showcases the versatility of this deciduous shrub. With proper pruning and care, this white flowering currant becomes a living tapestry of blooms, transforming UK gardens into fragrant havens of natural beauty.

Jasminum Argenteovariegatum

Jasminum Argenteovariegatum

In the enchanting landscape of UK gardens, Jasminum Argenteovariegatum, the Variegated Jasmine, takes centre stage as a captivating climber, adorning outdoor spaces with its elegant charm. Known for itsJasminum Officinale Argenteovariegatum distinctive variegated leaves, featuring shades of green and cream, this deciduous climber offers a visual delight that complements the British climate.

Pruning and caring for the Variegated Jasmine play pivotal roles in maintaining its graceful appearance. Regular pruning, ideally after flowering in late summer or early autumn, helps control its growth and shape while promoting a more robust blooming season. Remove any dead or unruly branches to encourage new growth and maintain the desired form. This climber thrives in well-drained soil and appreciates a sunny to partially shaded location, making it a versatile addition to various garden settings.

Jasminum Argenteovariegatum’s fragrant white blooms, coupled with its vibrant foliage, make it a cherished choice for UK gardeners seeking a climber that not only ascends gracefully but also adds a touch of aromatic allure to their outdoor havens. With its resilience and aesthetic appeal, the Variegated Jasmine stands as a testament to nature’s artistry, weaving beauty into the tapestry of British gardens.

Pollarding Garden Trees

Pollarded Willows

Pollarding is most effective when applied to young trees rather than mature ones. Young trees respond more promptly to any wounds inflicted during the process, minimising the risk of decay. The initial step involves growing the tree to the desired height, typically ranging from 3 to 6 feet, with a framework of three to five branches.

How to prune :

This pruning technique is commonly performed in late Winter or early Spring (late January to March) for most species. However, species like Acers and Mulberry are pollarded earlier while they are still fully dormant to prevent bleeding.

To carry out pollarding, use a pruning saw to cut branches significantly back to two buds, usually within 5-8 centimetres of the main stem. It is crucial to ensure that all cuts are neat for quick healing and water shedding. Following pruning, apply a generous feed of fertiliser and then mulch to promote robust Summer growth.

A regular pruning cycle should occur every one to three years. During this process, new growth is prunedPollarded Tree just above the previous cuts to avoid exposing older wood susceptible to decay. As the tree matures, occasional thinning may be necessary to evenly space out the remaining shoots, removing any overcrowded growth. Additionally, eliminate shoots appearing on the main trunk or suckers from the base of the tree.

After pollarding, it is essential to maintain the pruning cycle as the weight and angle of new branches can lead to weakness. To open up the plant’s centre, remove one or two older stems to the base annually.

While some deciduous garden trees respond well to pollarding, it is generally not successful for mature trees. Conifers, excluding Taxus Baccata, should not be pollarded as they do not regenerate from old wood. Certain deciduous trees, such as Birch and Prunus, may look unattractive as pollards. Large street trees like limes and planes, however, benefit from pollarding every two to four years to prevent them from outgrowing their allotted space.

Species that pollard well :

Species that respond well to pollarding include Acer Negundo, Acer Pensylvanicum Erythrocladum, Ailanthus Altissima, Catalpa Bignonioides, Cercis Canadensis, Cotinus Coggygria, Eucalyptus Gunnii, Liriodendron, Morus Alba, and Salix Acutifolia Blue Streak.

Abutilon Kentish Belle

Abutilon Kentish Belle
Abutilon Kentish Belle

Step into a world of enchantment with Abutilon Kentish Belle, a flowering maple that graces UK gardens with its captivating presence. Also known as the “Chinese lantern” shrub, this beauty weaves a tapestry of vibrant colours, adding an exotic touch to British gardens.

Abutilon Kentish Belle boasts distinctive lantern-like blooms that dangle gracefully from its branches, creating a mesmerising display of hues ranging from yellow to deep reds. This compact shrub, reminiscent of its native habitats, brings a touch of elegance and uniqueness to UK gardens.

Commonly referred to as the “flowering maple,” Abutilon Kentish Belle is well-suited for both sunny and partially shaded areas in the United Kingdom. Although adaptable to various soil conditions it will require some protection in the colder weather.

Pruning and Care: To ensure the continuous blooming splendour of Abutilon Kentish Belle, consider periodic pruning. Trim back any dead or unruly branches, focusing on shaping the shrub in late winter or early spring. Regular deadheading of spent blooms encourages prolonged flowering. With well-drained soil, consistent watering, and a touch of pruning finesse, Abutilon Kentish Belle will flourish, painting your UK garden with a radiant display of Chinese lantern-like blossoms and infusing it with a captivating charm.

Ulex europeus Flore Pleno

Ulex Europaeus Flore Plena

Ulex europeus Flore Pleno Double Blossomed Furze ). This RHS Award of Garden Merit recipient is a compact, almost leafless shrub with spiny stems and an abundance of double, fragrant, coconut scented, rich deep yellow flowers in Spring.

An easy to grow plant in a sunny spot, even in thin poor soils, also salt tolerant so well suited for coastal planting schemes, and frequently used as a low growing hedge.

This shrub is probably one of the most underrated of garden shrub, an absolutely ” bomb proof ” plant, ideal for deterring any unwanted visitors to the garden due to its sharp spiny nature. It is very garden worthy and its ” piece de resistance ” really are the eye catching clusters of bright yellow flowers with the characteristic sweet coconut fragrance. Very memorable on a lovely Spring or early Summer’s day.

Magnolia Stellata

Magnolia Stellata

Magnolia Stellata ( Star Magnolia ). This popular magnolia makes a slow growing bushy ornamental garden shrub or small tree, and blooms as a young plant, it’s grey silky buds forming into a mass of star shaped, slightly fragrant, whitish flowers in early Spring on bare branches before the leaves emerge, and cover the shrub for several weeks.

The leaves open a bronze-green colour turning to deep green during the Summer, before turning yellow and dropping during the Autumn. It also has interesting, reddish-green knobbly fruit which split open to reveal the orange seeds inside.

Magnolia Stellata’s compact size makes this an ideal shrub for smaller gardens, preferring a sheltered spot out of any strong, cold Winter winds.

The Star Magnolia was introduced from Japan to the US in 1862 by Dr George Robert Hall and later to the UK in 1877/1878, propably by Charles Maries, while he was collecting for Veitch Nurseries based at Chelsea and Exeter, Devon.

Spring Flowering Plants

Hamamelis X Intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis Diane ( Witch Hazel ) is one of the best of our flowering shrubs yet raised and has achieved the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit to prove its self! The beautiful deep red/orange sweetly scented flowers appear in January – February on bear branches before the emerging large bright green leaves which with the approaching Autumn begin to turn through rich shades of yellow, orange and red.

Jasminum Nudiflorum  The Winter Jasmine is one of the most tolerant and beautiful of all the Winter flowering shrubs. Bright yellow, star shaped flowers appear on the naked green branches in February. A very good shrubby climber for covering unsightly walls and banks. Another recipient of the much coveted RHS Award of Garden Merit.JASMINUM HUMILE 'REVOLUTUM'

Garrya Elliptica ‘James Roof’ This Silk Tassel bush is a magnificent evergreen shrub, draped, during the Winter-early Spring months with long greyish-green catkins. Dense and upright in habit, it is an ideal shrub for the Winter garden, or training against a wall. RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Mahonia Japonica The Oregon Grape is a beautiful species and deservedly one of the most popular and ornamental of all the evergreen shrubs. Magnificent deep green leaves an large racemes of fragrant lemon-yellow flowers from late Autumn to early Spring, followed by shiny dark purple berries. Its architectural foliage and form would add drama to any border. This RHS Award of Garden Merit shrub is also very good for the shady area of the garden.

MAHONIA JAPONICA

 

Spring Flowering

Acacia Dealbata

Acacia Dealbata

Commonly known as Mimosa or Silver Wattle is a surprisingly hardy plant that originates from Australia. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree with finely cut greenAcacia Dealbata leaves and sweetly scented, ball shaped, lemon flowers which are formed in the Autumn then open during late Winter / early Spring, and which are highly attractive to butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects to be found in our gardens. Suitable also for coastal areas.

Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn

One of the very best early flowering shrubs, a recipient of the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit. A very hardy, medium sized, upright shrub that has densely packed clusters of sweetly scented, rose-tinted flowers on bare branches that are remarkably frost resistant, making a welcoming sight on a Winters day.The bronze tinted fresh young foliage in Spring, turning a dark green through the summer months before changing to shades of orange/yellow towards the Autumn when the blue/black berries are formed.