Those of us that enjoy our gardens know what a pleasurable past-time it can be. Experiencing the changing seasons, seeing how well things are growing, the changing colours, as well as the wildlife that we welcome in makes us feel good. Even mowing the lawn can be a sort of ritual that we can enjoy taking part in.
Engaging our five senses can improve our mental health, help with anxiety and encourage us to take more notice of our surroundings. Even if you lack certain senses, your other senses can be heightened by simply paying attention to what we have around us. So, here we take a look at what we can do in our gardens to engage and stimulate the senses.
At this time of year your garden will most likely have plenty of flowers in bloom. This can create a lovely aroma.
Different herbs are lovely to touch and smell, as well as enhance flavours in cooking - from rosemary, sage, basil and thyme to the more exotic. There are many different types of mint too, which have different smells such as apple, pineapple, spearmint and even chocolate.
A popular idea from another age is to use chamomile plants for part of a lawn or as a garden seat. Just running hands across it creates a wonderful and powerful scent.
Sweet peas are glorious at the moment and can fill a room with scent when freshly picked. Likewise, the clove-like smell of a range of pinks (small carnations) make you want to breathe it in deeply and reminds you of Christmas.
For warm evenings there is nothing nicer than lilies, night scented stocks and nicotiana. All experienced with a gin and tonic of course!
Simply looking at your garden is a lovely activity, at any time of day. By placing plants of similar colours in clusters and differentiating the height of different plants you can create visual interest in your borders.
Pay attention to the changing colours as the seasons change. Even throughout summer gardens go through different stages, with all the pinks coming through and then perhaps the oranges and reds.
Have a look at what wildlife you can spot coming into your garden too. This is also a nice activity to do with children. Sit quietly with a cuppa and just observe.
Whether you are in the city or countryside there is much to be gained from taking a moment to listen when you are out in the garden. What sounds are close, and what are far away? Can you hear the birds, bees, flowing water?
To add to this sense you might consider adding a water feature or encouraging more wildlife into your garden by feeding birds and having bee-friendly flowers. You can also add things like grasses that sway in the wind.
Plants are very tactile. Things like lambs ears and snap dragons are fun. Come Autumn crunchy leaves are also good from both a touch and sound perspective.
Take your shoes off whilst walking on your lawn and feel the ground beneath you. Is it cool, is it slightly prickly or perhaps a little damp? This is called ‘grounding’ and is very good for helping to calm the mind and to feel more of a connection with the earth.
This one is potentially a bit tricky if you don’t have a fruit tree or a veg patch but herbs and salad leaves are very easy to grow.
Some flowers are also edible – do research first which ones are though! Thompson Morgan have a good article on the ones to eat and avoid here: https://www.thompson-morgan.com/edible-flowers
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