Public Gardens, What's Happening

Benefits of gardening, or just being IN a garden

park rx

Surgeon General leads walk through the park for launch of National Park Rx.

National Park Rx, a growing movement among doctors to prescribe parks and nature to their patients, launched recently and I was asked to talk to the public about the benefits of gardening.  Here’s the list I came up with:

  • Great exercise (with too many benefits to list, or to keep up with).
  • Improved immune system. (Hands in dirt – proven results.)
  • Reduced risk of dementia. (This one I’d never seen before Googling for benefits.)
  • Stress relief. (Oh, man.)
  • Improved mood. (Ditto.)
  • Connection with nature (The grand finale of benefits.)

I forgot “creative outlet.” Anything else?


My other mission was to encourage people to go to our local public gardens, so what are the proven benefits of being IN a garden, not gardening itself? I re-used these from the gardening list:

  • Stress relief.
  • Improved mood.
  • Connection with nature.

And added this one:

  • Getting inspired to garden.

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But there are probably more. So what benefits do YOU experience from spending time in gardens?

To illustrate the benefits of being in a garden I used these photos of public gardens: the Regional Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden in mid-summer, Magnolia Garden at the National Arboretum, and Brookside Gardens.

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Park Rx to include gardens?

Yes, the leader of DC’s Park Rx program (profiled here on the Rant) assured me that public gardens WILL be included on its website and other promotions. Though not a gardener himself, he was easily convinced that gardens and gardening are good for our health. We hope that’s true of the national program, as well.

Posted by on April 29, 2016 at 7:55 am, in the category Public Gardens, What's Happening.
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10 responses to “Benefits of gardening, or just being IN a garden”

  1. Jim says:

    I know when I want to de-stress I head outside and work in the yard, so I think this is wonderful! It’s great to get your hands dirty and see the beauty and change that can be made by gardening.

  2. Javi Gil says:

    I recently moved to an intentional community in MO looking to learn and live more sustainable. Here people have small gardens, that are nice and inviting. We spend most of our time outside working in the yard, growing food, and we definitely feel the benefits of gardening!

  3. Vicky says:

    As seen in the photos and in my own experience, visiting public gardens is a wonderful social activity. Every visit with my family must include such a group viewing and discussing of gardens. Many topics of discussion in my family can be contentious, but not gardening.

  4. kermit says:

    Tara, I wonder if those studies took into account the health of the people before hand? Folks who have chronic diseases might be more inclined (or forced) to retire early. And then, sadly, pass on before the others.

    At 65 I can’t wait to retire. Nice company to work for and all, but I just work there to pay the bills. As a gardener (and martial artist) I have plenty to do that I enjoy to fill my time and give me exercise and require continued learning.

    On that note, visiting other gardens, no matter how small or grand, often gives me ideas for my own.

  5. Ginger says:

    Google “forest bathing”. The Japanese are way ahead of us on this one.

  6. anne says:

    I once heard it said that human beings need 3 things in their lives in order to flourish: beauty, mystery and community. A garden can have all 3.

  7. Laura Bell says:

    Iwould list one of the benefits of being in a garden as simply “Inspiration”. Whether you are inspired to garden, paint, write poetry, study the interaction of flora and fauna, the geology or geomorphology, to contemplate one’s space in the universe … or to simply relax, gardens are very inspiring.

  8. Could we demand gardens and gardening for our politicians too?

  9. skr says:

    Idk about that stress bit. I am a little stressed out about all the repotting I need to do. I have a couple flats I started that need to go in the ground. The stupid ACP showed up early this year. An orchid had its roots rot on me and is in the ICU. I have so much to do and on top of it all it’s the season for Spring Society Sales which means even more repotting.

  10. Scientific study released recently. Those retiring at age 65 and how much longer they will live. Control groups with those working past age 65, those gardening, blah blah ti blah.

    Those who quit working at 65 are most likely to die. Those continuing to work, live a bit longer, and those gardening too.

    So. You must add longer life to your gardening list.

    Am already ahead of the curve, not only do I garden, at least 1/week, I do it without cell phone. Zero interruptions from the wired world. Soon, that particular will be a medical prescription too. Guaranteed.

    How about a certain type of Garden Design creating increased home value and reduced HVAC expense? Making people money is always a good headline. ‘WORKING’ in a garden. We know how welcome that headline is!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara