The link between health and gardening is back in the news this week.
It’s an issue that’s very close to my heart, well my right breast actually.
I’m living, walking, talking, writing and gardening proof that horticulture heals.
Gardening proved the key medicine in my fight and recovery from breast cancer 3 years ago.
I’m overly passionate about the subject so I’m super excited to see that the Royal Horticultural Society Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is shining a light on the issue through several stunning show gardens and a Health and Horticulture Conference.
Me with horrible chemo hair enjoying my garden on a lovely sunny day
So, why was gardening such a tonic?
Easy, it gave me something to focus on and something to look forward to. That’s the great thing about being a gardener, you’re always looking forward.
What’s going to flower next?
What veg are you going to grow next year?
Which fruit is going to be ready to eat next?
It’s a driving, positive force providing hope, inspiration and excitement about what’s to come.
Gardening kept me active in a period when my energy was low and tiredness was often overwhelming. I’m a runner as well as a gardener and as my treatment progressed I found it more and more difficult to do the miles and as any athlete will tell you that is truly frustrating!
Pottering in the garden, completing little tasks here and there meant I could still get out and keep my muscles active.
It also provided me with opportunities to challenge myself and show that I was still me. I remember 3 days after my 4th chemo session I waded into the middle of my pond and with my Mum’s help completely cleared it of an overgrown out of control Iris.
It was exhausting. I was in dirty water and with my chemo effected immune system ran the risk of all sorts of infections. It was a job I would have struggled to do in full health. But we did it. It took ages, we laughed and cried loads and had enormous fun.
When I pulled that last stinking, dripping Iris stump out I felt alive. I had won!
The overgrown pond before we showed it who’s boss!
In my opinion gardening should be prescribed and be available to all cancer patients. Every cancer ward, hospital and hospice should have a garden that can be enjoyed and worked in.
Give me a veg box and I will stand on it and shout about this all day every day.
Horticulture and gardening is a natural life force. It’s high time we really recognise this and harness its effects for the better.
I’d love to hear how horticulture has helped you. If you want to share your story then post away in this thread.
If you want to help pass on the positive gardening message then share this blog. Let’s spread the love!
Rachel (getting off my veg box now) Whittaker
P.S Want to know more about the stunning Hampton Court Palace show gardens highlighting the health benefits of gardening. Click the links.
The garden is a life-affirming, productive cut flower garden raising awareness of lymphoedema, a painful side effect of breast cancer surgery. It shows how to grow cut flowers in a small space, and champions seasonal, locally-grown blooms. Dried seedheads on display show the cyclical nature of life. A central water feature represents the flow of the lymphatic drainage system.
This garden aims to communicate the isolation and inner suffering people living with depression experience in everyday life, and the brave face they hide behind. The soft landscaping and naturalistic planting illustrate this concept, with marginal planting representing friends and family unable to reach the rock island. Alpines portray a harsher environment fighting to blend in.
Designed to be a peaceful and reflective space, the virtual reality garden will feature more than 100,000 flowers – one for each person who has left a gift in their Will to the charity. Mirrors in the physical space will hint at the expanse of the virtual garden and the colour palette of pinks, purples and white will be echoed across both.