Gardening Outdoor Fun

Start Your Garden Now For Health

We are often told that gardening is good for our health both mentally and physically. It is widely believed that spending time with nature, having house plants, access to windows with views of natural scenes, real and facsimile floral arrangements in our living and working spaces and even pictures of plants and flowers have the power to make people feel better. I was gifted five books on horticultural therapy for Christmas, and I now have the proof right in my hands (if I needed it) that all of these assertions are true!

Some of the physical benefits of participating in indoor or outdoor horticultural activities, and in some cases merely viewing plants or landscapes, include improved mobility, coordination, endurance, muscle conditioning, blood pressure, heart rates and respiration (Doherty 21-22, 27-28). The mind and it’s functions also respond positively to horticultural activities and subjects. Clients of horticultural therapy and people exposed to plants and aesthetic representations of plants have been known to show improvements in memory, social development, psychological development, cognitive development, relaxation and positive attitudes (Doherty 21-22, 27-28).

As I work my way through this new mini library I have been fortunate to acquire, I will learn more about why horticulture benefits us in so many ways and how to leverage the effects to the best of my ability in my own gardens, and any others that I may be asked to work on in the future. I’m currently in graduate school for Advertising and Marketing Communications at Webster University while I work part-time for Schnarr’s and don’t know what direction my life will take when the course of study is done. What I do know is that gardening will be part of my life as long as I have sufficient life in me and that any human being can benefit greatly from activities involving horticulture and plants (Doherty 24).

Seed starting display at Schnarr's Hardware.
Seed starting display at Schnarr’s Hardware on January 20, 2021.

In our Lawn and Garden department at Schnarr’s Webster, we’ve endeavored to make it a little easier to start your garden this year by suggesting plants that you can start from seed, and later in the season transplant and harvest, right at the time you visit the store. Each week as I change the display I hope you enjoy the new information.

You can also view the calendar we have provided on this blog that includes St. Louis area based suggestions for seed starting, transplanting outdoors and harvesting dates for various popular plants. In addition, when we hear about educational classes and events that we think sound worthwhile and have the potential to increase the value you get from your garden, we will include those on the calendar also.


Works Cited and Bibliography

Doherty, Janice Hoetker. A Calendar Year of Horticultural Therapy. Lilyflower Publishing, Inc., 2009.

Marcus, Clare Cooper and Naomi A. Sachs. Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces. Wiley, 2014.

Simson, Sharon P, PhD and Marha C. Strauss, HTM, Editors. Horticulture as Therapy: Principles and Practice. CRC Press, 1998.

Wells, Suzanne E. MS, Editor. Horticultural Therapy and the Older Adult Population. The Haworth Press, Inc., 1997.

Winterbottom, Daniel and Amy Wagenfeld. Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces. Timber Press, 2015.

Gardening Outdoor Fun

How I Use My Garden for Self Care

How I Use My Garden for Self Care

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

mygardenLife can be stressful at times. If we don’t take time for self care our health can suffer. I recently saw an advertisement for a workshop about gardening and holistic self care. I was not able to attend and learn some new things, but I can think of a lot of ways in which my garden already helps me with my own self care.

Exercise – That’s good for physical and mental health.

Time outdoors – Health benefits accrue from contact with nature and sunlight.

Hobby activity and learning – Observing what is going on in my garden and finding out the reasons why is great excercise for the brain. Studying for my Master Gardener tests earlier this year gave my memorization skills a big boost. If photography, sketching, painting or other visual arts are hobbies for you the garden can provide a lot of interesting subjects.

Mindfulness – I’m learning more about Mindfulness and how to practice it. The pleasant sensory experiences in a garden (taste, sight, smell, sound, touch) are a great incentive for Mindfulness exercises.

A sense of purpose – When I work on my garden, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am learning things that I can teach to others. I’m making the vicinity healthier and more pleasant for my human neighbors. Because of the way I manage my garden I’m helping address environmental problems that affect all of us – soil erosion, soil health, flooding, overuse of pesticides, scarcity of pollinators for crops, air quality and water quality. The impact of my garden may be small but it’s more satisfying to do something than nothing. The number of beneficial non-human species that use my garden lets me know that I’m providing healthy habitat for them. I also donate some of the extra seeds I raise to non-profits.

Indoor environment improved – My gardens surround all three exterior walls of my condo so when I open the windows delicious fragrances waft in. I set vases of cut flowers and herbs around to freshen and beautify the interior. If you believe in aromatherapy, you can breathe in some herbal essential oils right from the plant! I also make potpourri from the dried herbs.

Nutrition – I harvest edible leaves and make tasty beverages from herbs in my garden. The freshness enhances both taste and nutritional value.

Personal care products – I use herbs from the garden dried or fresh in a number of personal care products such as facial masks, bath tea, soaps, face lotion, skin balm and more (some of my recipes are here). Luxury bath products do make you feel cared for and when you make your own they’re even more luxurious because they’re made to your specifications.

Spritual benefits – Many faith traditions can incorporate gardening and plants – for example mazes, grottoes, shrines, incense and more. Many people find that working in concert with nature makes them feel closer to the Creator they believe in.

According to a book I’m reading now, “The Expressive Arts Activity Book” by Suzanne Darley and Wende Heath, the arts are inherently therapeutic. Gardening is an art and many products of the garden can be used in art forms such as cooking and flower arranging. Although I don’t know much about it yet, there is a professional field called Horticultural Therapy. If you already have a garden, I encourage you to take time to enjoy it’s benefits. If you are thinking of starting one the fall is an excellent time – waiting until spring to start a garden from scratch can be a challenge!