February 22, 2020 0 Comment
I am definitely someone who recognises that I’m a better functioning and much happier human being when I am surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of nature, mixed with a good dose of Vitamin D. I have also discovered the incredible health benefits of using nature and botanically based health and wellness products in my household and therefore gain many benefits from the inside-out via our natural world. Although not much of a successful green thumb, I’ve most recently been introduced to the proven health benefits of sensory gardens and indoor plants and if you don’t already, I definitely encourage you to consider plants as a pretty cool thing and very en vogue.
Monique Wilson of Greener Life Inverloch, is a huge advocate for and contributor towards The Garden Releaf program, which “is an innovative program established by Garden Centres of Australia (GCA) in 2014 to help people understand the numerous benefits that spending time in a garden or simply being surrounded by living greenery can have on a person’s health and wellbeing.” (1) The Releaf program is affiliated with Beyond Blue and raises funds to help support those with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or thoughts towards suicide. In modern times, mental health issues are being much more widely recognised and discussed, but the notion of using horticulture to calm the senses dates back to 500BC where the Persians created sensory gardens including cooling temperatures, scented plants and sound, like running water.
There are also many recent studies into horticulture therapy for the elderly and dementia patients and is largely based around the Reminisce Theory and how long term memory can be stronger than the short term. Triggers for reminiscing can help access these memories and give one the confidence to hold a discussion or have positive thoughts or memories in order to help feel happier, reduce stress and agitation and sometimes pain relief. The recollection of some memories may of course not always be positive so attention to the individuals’ needs is something always to be considered.
I know for me personally, the talk of certain senses triggering fond memories instantly reminds me of how the distinctive smell of freshly watered tomato plants will always throw me back to helping water tomatoes with Nan and Grandpa at their house as a child and the lovely memories I have of visiting them in the school holidays, which are treasured times.
“We all possess memories, we all have our own unique life history. Recalling the past is a means of owning it and hence preserving ourselves. It is a here and now process which holds the teller and the told in relationship with each other.”
Faith Gibson (1998)
Garden Relief Day is coming up on Sunday March 22, 2020 across Australia and will be themed around “30 Green Minutes per week” as garden therapy. All generations are encouraged to host interactive plant parties and either visit a garden or garden centre or to learn how to get active in their own garden.
Monique is deeply passionate about therapy gardens and would love to complete more work surrounding them in the local area and is an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to talking about anything you can grow if you’d like to take the time to pop into her nursery.
- If you are suffering from any sort of mental health issues; please don’t ever be afraid to seek support because it is okay not to be okay. Lifeline13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au
Here are Monique’s top tips for sensory based plants suited to Gippsland’s climate;
Corymbia citridora (Lemon scented gum)
Mint bush (Prostanthera ovalifolia)
Non natives – these are all great for potted gardens as well
Mock orange (philadelphus)
Native grasses- soft form such as lomandra lime tuff and little con
Banksia blechifolia and dwarf forms such as cherry and birthday candles
Herbs to crush, touch, smell and taste:
Lemon scented geranium
Common mint, Vietnamese mint and chocolate mint
Chalk sticks and other succulents
Cactus (ouch – be careful, hair ones are cool)
Indoors – calatheas, parlour palms