As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
Once again a report has been published linking the benefits of gardening with healthy minds and bodies. The King's Fund findings are outlined by Nathan James Dodd, and they include recommendations that gardening should be promoted as a way of improving health.
Commissioned by the National Gardens Scheme, 'Gardens and Health' a report from the King's Fund, finds that gardens and gardening play a key role in bodily and mental health, and this ought to be recognised by the government and NHS.
Access to gardens can have broad and diverse benefits, resulting in the prevention of illness and the promotion of good health, and the report found this can have a long term effect in lowering healthcare costs.
Specifically, depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress can be reduced, and dementia symptoms alleviated. Heart disease, cancer and obesity can be combated, better balance amongst the elderly could lead to less falls while children may benefit from the sense of personal achievement.
There are hospice garden projects but the use of gardens in medical and social care remains restricted despite positive results.
The chief of the Queen's Nursing Institute commented that nurses in the community already understand gardening's benefits and this report provides evidence for their practice.
Clinical commissioning groups in particular could work with councils to include gardening in social prescribing projects, such as one already operating since 2013 where patients learn to grow food in a secure and safe environment
The report's author, David Buck, says that we need to build on the evidence and get it translated into policy and practice.
Key recommendations are that NHS, clinicians and local government should do more to promote horticulture, especially in their 'flagship programmes', gardening should be 'prescribed' to improve health, local authorities innovative ways of sustaining public gardens.
Health and gardens was an important theme at this year's Chelsea Flower Show demonstrated by a number of show gardens and now that many politicians and influential people already recognise the link, perhaps progress will be made in implementing the report's findings.
Nathan James Dodd
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