However, a La Trobe University study has also found that domestic gardening can enhance health and wellbeing by alleviating stress and helping people to cope with personal issues.
The study—Health, Wellbeing and the Domestic Garden: A Phenomenological Perspective—explored the experiences of everyday encounters with nature in the domestic garden through a series of interviews with 12 participants aged 46-90 years old.
Ms Joanne Adams, Principle Researcher and La Trobe Master of Health Science Honours student, says the participants were experienced gardeners who had tended to their current gardens through prolonged drought conditions and, at times, severe water restrictions.
The study also found that participants became more engaged at the individual, community and environmental level.
‘The three main themes that emerged from the study were engagement, connection and wholeness. A process of engagement with the garden occurred for all participants.
‘Learning through doing, which combined both mental activity and physical exercise, was described by all participants as something that enabled a greater understanding of natural processes and prevailing conditions in the garden. Many began to develop a relationship with the plants in their care,’ says Ms Adams.
Engagement in the garden frequently prompted a range of further connections at individual, social and environmental levels. ‘Many participants saw the value of local garden clubs in supporting social connectedness and recognised the importance of the domestic garden in the protection of urban biodiversity, she says.’
A period of connection emphasised a deeper awareness of self in relation to a broader social and environmental context. For some participants it provided a means of unwinding from the stresses of daily life and provided a sense of balance. For others, connection to the garden provided a vital means of coping with periods of illness, loss and grief.
‘Wholeness was characterised as the attainment of a sense of wellbeing and in this study this has been likened to a form of spirituality since many participants drew a deeper meaning from the garden.’
‘As a progression from previous forms of connection, wholeness was typically expressed through demonstration of resilience, acceptance of change, and insight into natural processes,’ says Ms Adams.
The role of the domestic garden, according to the study, can strengthen a community by offering a common appreciation towards nature. The domestic garden represents a considerable asset to the community not only with regard to health promotion and wellbeing, but also by supporting urban biodiversity.
‘Having nature in close proximity to our homes provides a valuable means to enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals, the community and the surrounding environment’ Ms Adams says.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
La Trobe University Communications Officer
T: 03 9479 5353 M: 0418 495 941