At Amberol we have long believed that gardening has a whole range of physical and psychological benefits. So, when we were approached to support a research project looking into the possible link between wellbeing and greenery, we were happy to offer our help.
The research, which was carried out by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and a collaboration of Universities (Sheffield, Westminster and Virginia) demonstrated that having a greener front garden can make people feel happier, more relaxed and closer to nature.
We donated 60 of our barrel planters to the four-year project; half for free and half at cost price. The containers were planted up and placed in previously bare front gardens in areas of economic deprivation in Salford. And because our planters are all self-watering, maintenance was reduced for the people taking part, making it even easier to grow the different plants that were supplied.
Residents received a range of plants and shrubs including azalea, clematis, lavender, and rosemary as well as bulbs and bedding plants to fill two containers. The experimental design included a control group who received the plants one year later.
The research team was able to see the impact of greenery on stress levels by measuring residents’ concentrations of cortisol (which can be an indicator of stress levels) before and after the plants were added. Prior to the experiment, 24% of residents had healthy cortisol patterns. Over the course of the year following the plantings, this increased to 53%.
In addition, over half (52%) of the residents said their front garden helped them be happier, 40% said it helped them be more relaxed and over one in four (26%) said it helped them be closer to nature.
Dr Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui, who conducted the research as part of her PhD and who is now an RHS Wellbeing Fellow, commented; “We can now further evidence the vital need to incorporate plants into our front gardens and domestic spaces. This will require a change in the way we strategise, design, plan and build our living spaces.
“The stress reduction data is startling; in that we found such a significant response with just a relatively small number of plants. Now we know that access to even a tiny patch of nature has beneficial effects for our health.”
Professor Alistair Griffiths of the RHS added; “With so many millions more people gardening after discovering a passion to grow during lockdown, the RHS hopes this research inspires more people to plant a few plants, from containers and window boxes to hedges and trees, in their street-side outside spaces.”
The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. The organisation aims to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and to make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. The RHS carries out scientific research, as well as education and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk.