Reap what you sow
GARDEN Releaf weekend kicks off today. More than 100 independent garden centres across Australia are working together to highlight the power of plants and gardens to enrich our lives, raise awareness of anxiety and depression, and to raise money for beyondblue.
About two million people in Australia experience anxiety each year, and more than one million live with depression. They are common and treatable illnesses, not weaknesses.
The inaugural weekend last year raised around $70,000 for beyondblue. But it's not just about raising money. The main purpose of the weekend is to focus on the health benefits of plants, and encourage more people to get more plants into their lives.
There's lots of research that has proven just how good for health and wellbeing gardening, and being in a garden, can be. Access to gardens helps people heal more quickly after illness or surgery and reduces stress and anxiety.
Participating in gardening activities brings even more benefits - a sense of achievement, the positive effects of physical activity, and, when the gardening involves edible plants, an improvement in diet as the gardeners tend to eat more fresh produce. In office spaces, the presence of plants leads to a more satisfied workforce and an increase in productivity.
So what is it about gardens and gardening that is so appealing? Of course there is the physical beauty of the plants themselves, as well as the fragrance, and the birds, butterflies and other wildlife that will take up residence. Then there is the opportunity to be creative, as we design and redesign, plant and replant.
The connection with the natural world is strengthened, too, as we pay more attention to the earth, the rain, the heat, the wind, the insects and the seasons.
At a very basic level, plants are essential to our survival. Two trees are needed to supply the oxygen needs of each person. A typical person consumes about 175 kilograms of oxygen a year.
A healthy, 10.5 metre tree can produce about 118 kilograms of oxygen a year. Plants have also been proven to help to purify the air in homes and workplaces, removing VOCs, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants. They work hard all day, every day, with negligible running costs.
So this weekend, visit your local garden centre and get some more plants into your life. You can find out more at gardenreleaf.com.au