Gardens, no matter how big or small, have the potential to bring South Africans together, which is why on Sunday 20 October we are encouraging all plant people to wear a flower crown and celebrate Garden Day with neighbours, family and friends.
Garden Day is for everyone: beginner gardeners, indoor plant mums and dads, patio potters, rose growers and wild weeders. It doesn’t matter if you’re part of a group of gardeners growing and harvesting home crops, or a Gardashian whose perfectly pristine, rolling lawn is sure to make everyone else turn green, you’ve worked hard all year, and now it’s time to hang up your gloves and allow yourself the time to appreciate your garden. Even plant parents need a break. Garden Day was proudly created by Candide, a gardening app that connects gardeners with fellow plant lovers, public gardens and plant nurseries, with the aim of kick-starting a movement to unite all South Africans. The app, which features an extensive knowledge base of plants, news articles, plant identification, growing tips and virtual garden tours, aspires to be the BFF of choice to gardeners everywhere. Enthusiasts are encouraged to show their support by making and wearing flower crowns, and hosting a celebratory event. It could be tea and cake, a glass of umqombothi, a plant swap or lunch on the lawn … as long as you’re surrounded by greenery and toasting the goodness our gardens give us all year round .
Spending regular time in the garden has undisputed health advantages, and there is an abundance of scientific evidence to back up such claims. “Next time you’re feeling under the weather, down in the dumps or stressed out, don’t reach for a packet of pills – grab your garden fork instead,” says Professor Nox Makunga, a plant scientist at the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University. “There are dozens of studies globally that have looked into how gardening affects your health and there’s only one conclusion: gardening is incredibly good for you.” In fact, gardening is considered so beneficial in the United Kingdom (UK) that it’s estimated that one in five doctors practice ‘green prescribing’, where patients partake in regular gentle activities such as community gardening to prevent diseases like diabetes and dementia, and tackle issues like isolation. And if you are under the impression that gardening is the preserve of retired folk with lots of time on their well-worn hands, think again. Millennials in the UK, disturbed by an increasingly turbulent world, are finding peace amidst plants, eschewing relaxation trends like yoga and meditation and choosing to spend more time amongst plants. And this well-spent time can be extremely beneficial in a number of ways:
- Replace screens with greens for lifelong genes. Every hour spent in front of a TV screen shortens your life by 21 minutes, whereas every hour spent gardening lengthens it.
- Budding brains. School gardening clubs teach children fine motor skills through tasks such as transplanting seedlings and tying in tomatoes.
- Green finger gains. Gardening gets us off our couches and increases physical health by an average of 33%, also contributing to a decreased rate of heart disease and diabetes. Half an hour pushing a lawnmower burns 150 calories, equivalent to a moderate session in the gym…and you’ll never have to worry about renewing your membership.
- Couples who garden together, stay together. Yes, planting partners report that they’re far more patient with each other.
- Dig in. The secret of gardeners’ happiness could well lie in the soil: mice show increased levels of serotonin – the ‘happiness hormone’ – when exposed to soil bacteria.
- Planting for productivity. Office workers who have houseplants on their desks are 15% more productive than those who don’t.
Taking part in Garden Day couldn’t be easier: visit www.gardenday.co.za to download a toolkit with hints, tips and how-to videos, all aimed at helping your create the perfect celebration.
And don’t forget to join the movement by following @GardenDaySA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Share your Garden Day celebrations on social media by tagging @GardenDaySA and using #GardenDaySA.
Text: Marvello and Mill
Images: © iStock