There are two kinds of forests on this planet. A green one which is natural, and a grey one that is man-made. Nature, as a proverbial therapist, is a herb centre that revives tired minds with its healing touch—through clean air, a quiet environment, trees, and grasslands. Our wilderness, of the concrete kind, comprises tall buildings, busy roadways, walled spaces where we wake up every day to achieve our dreams and make our lives comfortable. We do that, however, at the cost of our wellbeing. If we just look at the increasing number of people with stress, depression, and other psychosomatic ailments, we would realise how much we need nature to heal our invisible wounds.
No wonder, countless people, nowadays, take a break from their comforts of city life to spend time in the countryside or in the woods. It has become a need for many, to unwind and restore their selves amidst nature—to walk bare feet on damp grass; to soak in the morning sun in some open space; to fill their lungs with fresh air; to listen to the sound of chirping birds or insects; to touch and feel plants and shrubs—as these activities provide a sense of calm and peace, which is, otherwise, missing in our urban lives. Since our daily responsibilities keep us from such close contact with nature, some people make the conscious effort to bring nature closer to home—through the practice of gardening.
Whether one lives in a penthouse or a villa, one can build a garden of their choice. Be it Pineapple Lily orchids on a patio or a vegetable garden in the backyard, a garden can help people reconnect with nature and reap its therapeutic benefits. All it takes is a dedication to set up the garden and look after it. Nature does the rest in its mysterious ways.
To understand the benefits of gardening, let’s take a flight into space, where people have to work under difficult conditions. Up there, away from nature and its earthbound creations, there is no room for error in judgment. Yet, a lack of natural stimuli can depress or tire out humans leading to complications. A research conducted by NASA’s Behavioral Health and Performance team showed the importance of having some green in the extreme conditions of space. It also said humans can’t survive without nature, even in the safest of spacesuits or space stations. So astronauts were given seeds and plants to keep them happy, calm, and productive. Result? Today, every astronaut is a space gardener. Mike Foale, an astronaut from the ISS Expedition 8 said he used to look at his plants after waking up at the station every day “for about 10 to 15 minutes. It was a moment of quiet time.” Peggy Whitson, a biochemist who went to space too, described the feeling of having a plant in space as “dramatic”, in one of her letters from the space station.