I’ll admit, gardening is not on my list of favourite activities, since yard work seems to be a never-ending task that’s right up (or rather, down) there with trying to keep a tidy house while living with small kids. But judging by what I found out when researching a story on the benefits of coaxing seeds to grow, and digging in the dirt, I probably should reconsider my position.
From providing stress relief and offering a sense of purpose and accomplishment when those things feel lacking in other parts of your life, to fostering creativity, and promoting mental health, gardening has a great deal to offer. And in fact, some specially trained counsellors and therapists incorporate caring for, or even just spending time amid plants into their practice — a discipline that’s known as Horticultural Therapy.
One thing to note before you start reading the story. I made a typo in a statistic that’s quoted in the piece. In the study that inspired the name of Cheney Cramer’s horticultural therapy practice — One Green Square — people in the office featuring a plant experienced a 20 per cent increase in creativity, not 70 per cent as stated in the story. My apologies for the error.
My thanks go out to all of the interviewees: Cheney Creamer, a horticultural therapist and chair of the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association; Leo Gosselin, vocational rehabilitation coordinator of the Adult Tertiary Mental Health and Substance Use program at Vancouver Coastal Health; his colleague, Moira Solange, a horticultural therapist at Willow Pavilion (part of VCH’s Adult Tertiary Mental Health and Substance Use program); Dr. Scott Grandy, associate professor with the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and an affiliate scientist with the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Division of Cardiology; and self-proclaimed ‘Posy Pusher’ and passionate gardener Diana Maretta of Amherstburg, Ont.