There’s an old joke that goes: “Gardening: Cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes!” And while we chuckle at this pithy saying, there’s a lot of truth to it. With the myriad worries of the world on our shoulders it’s only natural for us to want a brief escape from it all. Fortunately, your garden can be that escape when you have just the right elements to make is so.
To experience complete relaxation it helps to engage most to all of your senses. Here are some methods to get the most out of your garden.
This one is fairly easy as any garden with green and growing things is a buffet of visuals waiting to emerge. To enhance your viewing experience it’s a good idea to add unique plants with varying heights and textures for a multi-dimensional effect. With proper planning it’s not hard to tuck vibrant colors and shapes into every corner of your landscape. Flowering vines provide vertical interest as they climb up and “dress” your climber-friendly structures with their verdant coils and striking blooms. Clematis and climbing roses make great companions and look stunning as they roam up trellises or scramble up and over low garden walls.
Just as vines and ornamental trees reach for the sky, groundcovers beautify the earth and add another layer of visual sensation. Regular green grass is no match for the thrill of red creeping thyme or blue speedwell pooling over the ground in low, mesmerizing swells of color.
Birds calling (or ‘humming’), the wind whistling through the trees, the gentle burble of water trickling through a fountain; these are just a few of the soothing and delightful sounds which can naturally fill your garden. Birds are easy enough to attract. Hummingbirds can be drawn with feeders and their favorite flowers while songbirds will come once they spot the sparkle of fresh water in a birdbath and and abundance of seeds. With a pinch of luck and some appealing birdhouses you can expect them to stay a long while.
If you’re looking for music that is a bit more consistent, wind chimes are a good choice. As the breeze teases playful tones from the metal tubes it fills the air with a cheerful melody that is never the same song twice.
For those who desire a quieter and more restful experience certain shrubs planted around the perimeter of your garden can act as a living screen which muffles the jarring sounds and intrusive sights and smells of the outside world.
Aromatherapy is using pleasant scents to calm the mind and it is an effective relaxation method that no sensory garden is complete without. Smell is an often undervalued aspect of our daily lives despite how large a role it plays in how we perceive the world. Scent is the strongest sense tied to memory and a single whiff is all it takes to sweep you up in a rush of nostalgia. If you’re looking for fragrant flowers you’re in luck – there’s plenty to choose from. Wisteria, gardenias, some varieties of dianthus and roses hold a rich and heady scent which draws you in and keeps you spellbound.
Even if you don’t want to commit to a full-fledged veggie garden, there are easier ways to bring pleasing flavors into your green spaces. Fruit trees and berry bearing shrubs are the perfect mix of ornamental beauty and functional purpose which you can enjoy right in the moment or bring inside for later. Honeysuckles are another options as they are not only heavily fragrant, but their sugary nectar makes for a sweet and nostalgic treat. Honeyberries are close relatives to honeysuckle vines and bear sweet fruits which look remarkably like oblong blueberries.
When discussing this fifth sense we tend to think only of what we can feel with our hands, but there are many ways to enjoy your garden through physical sensation. Imagine this: You’re leisurely sitting on a glider bench nestled beneath a large shade tree, resting your bare feet in the soft, cool grass beneath you while basking in the subtle warmth of the dappled sunlight that filters through the leaves above. A light breeze sweeps over you from head to toe and you hear a faint clink as the ice resettles in your glass of lemonade sitting beside you. Can you feel that? That’s Nature admiring your garden and saying Job well done.