Sally Baker, Psychotherapist working with Hopes Grove Nurseries says: “It is now widely recognised amongst mental health practitioners of the role plants and gardening can have in boosting feelings of mental well-being.
“The Japanese have known this for centuries with their practice of ‘Forest Bathing’ which is simply spending time and walking amongst trees or in green spaces.
“Even on a smaller scale at home, the benefits can be appreciated. Scientific research has discovered that working with garden soil or pot plants releases microbes from the soil that stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain, the feel-good hormone that works to naturally lift one’s mood.”
Lavender – Lavender is considered to be a very relaxing plant with a powerful scent. It’s also a calming lilac colour that looks beautiful in any garden and turns it into a tranquil haven.
Lavender provides several ways to unwind and relax: Firstly, gardening and planting are considered to be a mindful activity which can help to boost your mood. Also, it’s very easy to make a calming lavender tea using fresh lavender from the garden. Lavender also attracts many bees and butterflies that will fill your garden and put a smile on your face.
Jasmine – A beautiful, delicate climber, jasmine makes a stunning addition to any garden. Producing peaceful white flowers, jasmine is an ideal plant for boosting your mental health.
The sweetly fragrant scent they produce is not just going to make you smile because it smells so wonderful, research indicates that the jasmine oil that derives from the flowers actually has numerous health benefits. According to research, jasmine oil may help to reduce depressive symptoms!
Fruit trees – Gardening and baking are both well known activities to practise self-care and boost mental health. What if there was a way that you could combine both?
Owning and growing a fruit tree is a labour of love, much like baking is. They can take a number of years to grow and begin producing fruit which means they offer a consistent activity to take your mind away from the world.
Plus, you can use the fruit such as apples, pears, cherries and plums to spend hours in the kitchen baking up a storm!
Sally adds: “Planting fruit trees sets in place a slower and more satisfying way of measuring time.
“As the seasons roll by each year, each has a part to play in how a tree matures, sets fruit and grows towards its time to harvest.
“This slower pace of tending to something you’ve planted and cared for is in welcome contrast to the relentless speed of life beyond the garden.”
Rosemary – Rosemary is an incredibly popular plant choice for gardens across the country, thanks to its pretty aesthetic and culinary uses.The vibrant blue flowers produced will be sure to put a smile on your face as they brighten up your garden, plus you can channel your inner Jamie Oliver in kitchen while cooking up some delicious comfort food.
The rosemary oil produced by this shrub is widely used in traditional medicine and is said to improve mental function and help clear the mind! Whether you add it to your garden, food or scent diffuser, rosemary is one of the best plants for boosting mental health.
Chrysanthemum – If you’re looking for a vibrantly beautiful plant to brighten up your garden and bring a sense of joy, you should plant chrysanthemums.
Chrysanthemums are autumnal plants which means they bloom between September-November, keeping your garden bright and spirited well after the Summer months have passed. With bold pinks, oranges, whites and yellows, getting some fresh air in your garden while admiring your Chrysanthemums is a great way to boost your wellbeing!
Lemon Balm – This vibrant green perennial is part of the mint family and is another plant that can combine activities such as gardening and cooking.
Lemon balm is renowned for its many healing properties, with people adding it to tea to create a delicious warm drink. If you struggle with stress, anxiety or insomnia, you may choose to plant lemon balm as it is said to help reduce symptoms.
If you want to plant lemon balm, you can sow seeds indoors between March-May and transfer outside when all chances of frost have disappeared.
According to Sally: “Plants with strong pleasing scents such as lavender, jasmine, rosemary, lemon balm etc work directly on the olfactory receptors in the nose to create an anti-anxiety response in the brain to increase one’s sense of calmness.
“Other scents are uplifting and can encourage a sense of energy and optimism.”
Peace Lily – It’s not only outdoor plants that can help to improve your mental health. There are many houseplants and indoor plants that can boost your mood, such as peace lilies!
One of the most popular houseplants, peace lilies are very common in home offices and are sure to put a smile on your face during the working week. These beautiful plants symbolise peace, tranquillity, positivity and a sense of calm. If you believe in manifestation, surround yourself with heavenly peace lilies and manifest that you can share these amazing properties.
According to NASA, peace lilies are great at removing harmful toxins and pollutants from the air, so they carry a physical health benefit, as well as mental health!
Hawthorn plants – Hawthorn plants are ideal because they can be grown into hedging which provides shelter for wildlife, keeping them safe and comfortable. Providing a home for wildlife and knowing that you’re putting good into the world is bound to boost your mood!
Hawthorn plants also bear delicious red fruits that will provide a source of food and nutrients to local wildlife. The wildlife will be happy to share the fruits with you as the berries have many health benefits, particularly for the heart. Nourishing your body and soul with these gorgeous red berries is a great way to improve your mental, and physical, health!
This is something Sally also agrees with. She says: “There is something about the mediative, relaxing pace of gardening or tending to pot plants that can encourage one’s blood pressure to slightly lower and one’s heart rate to beat slightly slower as one becomes more immersed in the primal process of tending to live, growing plants.”