SENSES OF A GARDEN
To some a garden is a necessity. Others think of it as a millstone and a necessary chore that would serve its purpose best if it were all plastic. Yet others see it as an essential therapy in life.
How you determine what that therapy is? What does it do?
There are the usual suspects that assail each of the five senses that can be identified to provide garden therapy, and then there are other things that are slowly being revealed in horticultural research that looks into the cause and effect of a garden. Much of this is research on how a garden helps slow brain degeneration.
Circadian rhythm is a biological process that has to do with body clocks – things that account for sleeping and energetic mornings that occur at much the same time each day. The ‘rhythm of life’ can be affected by a garden. Sitting and absorbing a presence, the elixir of smell gently disturbs your olfactory and stimulates brain cells that recall a happy or pleasant moment of memory.
The sense of somatosensorial features highly in contribution of a garden experience. It is simply the sense of touch. For example, one raspy leaf of a purple wreath vine that could be the most violent plant to feel ever. It feels like a sheet of coarse sandpaper. Or the opposite in costus with its beautiful soft leaves like the fur of mink.
These affects are well known to us, but subliminally, or probably out of ignorance we are only now learning what it is of a garden that has positive and therapeutic effects on mental health generally.
As we learn more about hideous diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other degenerative conditions, it is a garden that can bring peace in confusing twilight time and serenity with a collection of plants that are group planted in to the five senses zones.
Those that feel nice or different, those that smell, others that create noise in a breeze like bamboo, ornamental grasses, and those that taste good. The flower of a costus has a tangy lemon taste straight from the bush, as does lemongrass or the crisp clean smell of citrus flowers.
Garden therapy is more than the weed pulling penance of our childhood, it is an essential part of how we live and use a garden as part of our overall health and wellbeing.