Summer sporting dates in the calendar draw many hundreds, if not thousands of people together in the presence of superb athletes who compete in their chosen sport, whether it’s rowing, riding, golf or tennis. I am thinking Henley, Royal Ascot, Wimbledon and The Open.
Many of those who go to these great events are there as much for the occasion as they are for the sport. The British excel at organising events which uphold tradition and perpetuate high standards in a variety of ways, whether it’ the clothes that are allowed, the umpiring, the rules or ticket allocation! The only thing we can’t do, of course, is organise the weather!
Interestingly, observers and revellers at these great events are not necessarily people who play the sport in question, whether it’s golfing or going riding. This is in contrast to flower shows. As I watched television towards the end of May, it struck me that the Chelsea Flower Show, the annual event run by the Royal Horticultural Society attracts committed gardeners who want to be inspired.
These are all people for whom gardening also happens to be an effective way of taking gentle exercise. In fact, there is growing evidence of the benefits to health of gardening.
This would come as no surprise to those who founded the nearby Chelsea Physic Garden in 1673. It was called The Apothecaries’ Garden and plants were grown there for health-giving reasons. The concept of taking exercise was unknown of course but the medicinal power of plants was familiar.
Gardening and mental health
During this year’s Chelsea Flower Show coverage on the BBC, I was moved to see Monty Don interview a wheelchair bound man in the ‘A-Modern-Apothecary‘ show garden.
It transpired the disabled man had been the victim of a car accident. As part of his recovery, he had taken up gardening. Despite being in a wheelchair he found himself able to undertake quite a few gardening activities. It had proved life-changing for him and he is now contemplating a future as a garden designer. I thought it was brilliant that the flower show could highlight such an inspirational story.
We are not just talking about the improvement of physical health. According to an article on the BBC website last year, gardening boosts mental health too.
I do have window boxes which I tend and my girls love to help me but as I live in a flat, I can’t take up serious gardening. But now that I understand how much gardening improves health and lifts the spirits I am much more interested in gardening and will look after my window boxes with renewed care.