SENSES OF A GAR­DEN

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

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.

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