Gardening and wellbeing are talked about a lot in the media, but how can you bring these benefits to your home gardening space?
One approach is to think about all of your senses, not just sight. If you look at your garden, balcony, courtyard or windowsill in this way, you will soothe your mind, helping your mental health. Let’s look at our senses one at a time:
This is obvious – who doesn’t love to look at a garden? The most restful colour is green but a solid green garden can look dull. Go for a jungle look, with lush, huge foliage and lots of contrasting plant and leaf shapes and shades.
Add in variegated foliage and some white flowers. Easy tropical-looking plants include Fatsia japonica Spider’s Web, variegated ivies – even hardy bananas and palms. White flowers such as annual Cosmos Purity or perennial Shasta daisy will add highlights. And the best bit? These plants grow well in pots and can be adapted as houseplants.
Variations of green and leaf shape: windmill palm, Fatsia japonica Spider’s web
and Korean Gold plum yew all in pots. Picture; MandyCanUDigIt
Scents can evoke so much. I get a feeling of joy when I smell the perfume of something I’ve grown. Top of my spring list is scented daffodils – try white Thalia, bright yellow Sweetness and Sundisc, plus tiny Minnow, Pacific Coast and Cheerfulness. You can have pots of scented plants year-round. In winter, sweet box (Sarcococca) and Viburnum x bodnantense Dawn.
Summer wouldn’t be the same without roses – pink Gertrude Jekyll has a strong perfume. For clouds of scent, jasmine Clotted Cream and sweet pea Cupani with purple and pink blooms can’t be beaten. These three will carry on well until the autumn.
Strongly-scented daffodil Sweetness. Picture; MandyCanUDigIt
There’s no thrill quite like picking your own fruit and veg. Strawberries, tomatoes and herbs can be grown in pots. Choose everbearing strawberries that will fruit throughout summer and autumn. Plump for dwarf bush tomatoes – Tumbling Tom Red can even grow in a hanging basket.
Group Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, marjoram and oregano together in well-drained poor soil in full sun. At the end of summer, take the pots indoors for windowsill pickings during winter.
There are so many tactile plants out there! Stachys, or lamb’s ears, have woolly, soft grey-white leaves, as has Salvia argentea. Consider plants that release perfume when touched. Scented-leaved Pelargoniums have odours ranging from cedarwood to Coke! My favourite is Attar of Roses – smells like Turkish delight.
This is when you know you have a successful wildlife garden. Close your eyes, zone out and hear bees buzzing, birds singing and wind rustling through grasses (Briza maxima and Miscanthus are good). If you can’t hear wildlife, get planting! Sow hardy annuals like Calendula, Nigella and Nasturtiums for bright pops of colour. They’re easy and will self-seed next year.
Easy annual Calendula Fiesta Gitana. Picture; MandyCanUDigit
Set up a bird feeder – local birds will come to rely on it, so keep up daily feeding. Adding a water feature is restful for you and will attract more species. If there’s traffic noise, hedges block the decibels, absorb pollution and provide a vital habitat. For fences, choose quick-growing climbers like Clematis montana or the golden hop, which can grow up to 8m in a season.
Fast-growing golden hop. Picture; MandyCanUDigIt
Make your garden, balcony or home a sanctuary, no matter what its size with plants. Have happy and peaceful gardening.
Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist, specialist gardening copywriter and plantaholic with roots firmly planted in working-class NE England. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into a rainforest of information. Mission statement: to make gardening more accessible to the often excluded – the less able, the hard-up or beginners. An advocate of gardening for better mental and physical health.