Dig in this Garden Day

Tranquil settings beckon all garden lovers.

Organisers of this year’s Garden Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday October 20, are putting the spotlight on the health benefits of getting outside and spending some time with your plants.

“Next time you are 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 practise “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 the retired folk with lots of time on their well-worn hands, think again.
Millennials in the UK, disturbed by increasingly turbulent world, are finding peace amid plants, eschewing relaxation trends such as yoga and meditation and choosing to spend more time among 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 the 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 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.
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 “thyme” out.
A study undertaken by two researchers at Leiden University and Wageningen University and Research Center in The Netherlands, asked two groups of people to perform a highly stressful task.
During their downtime, they asked one group to read a book and the other to perform 30 minutes of gardening. Even though both tasks lowered levels of cortisol (the stress-inducing hormone) in the brain, gardening had a higher effect. 
So, go on and those hands dirty and relax.
To take part in Garden Day, visit www.gardenday.co.za to download a toolkit with hits, tips and how-to videos, all aimed at helping you create the perfect celebration.
Share your Garden Day celebrations on social media by tagging @GardenDaySA and using #GardenDaySA.