GARDENERS have long recognized the benefits of their favorite hobby for physical and mental well-being. Eighteen months ago, during the first confinement, our gardens became havens of peace in the middle of a period for many very worrying. They provided a distraction through a variety of tasks and projects, as well as a space where we could feel safe and relaxed.
Research conducted earlier this year by the Royal Horticultural Society concluded that people who garden just two to three times a week have better wellness scores and lower stress levels.
It is science and common sense that have guided the creation of a new garden in the North Down which aims to be an asset for both education and community cohesion.
The South Eastern Regional College (Serc) Wellness Garden on the Holywood campus was officially opened on Thursday.
Supported by Â£ 6,000 funding through Ulster Garden Villages and overseen by the Serc Horticultural Team, with the support of volunteers and students, the project is the first step towards providing a peaceful and therapeutic space to use by the local community.
According to Claire Dunwoody, a horticulture lecturer at Serc, the funding was secured on the basis that the area in which the garden is located has an above-average population over 65, with isolation issues and, in some cases, disability and dementia. Funding was approved early last year, but due to foreclosure restrictions, construction has been delayed.
Claire said the goal of the project is to use plants and gardening skills to improve physical and mental health, as well as to develop communication and thinking skills.
“This new facility will be a safe and secure place to meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of the local population, allowing for social interaction, hands-on activities and relaxation,” she said. Irish news before opening.
There are several features in the garden, which overlooks Redburn Country Park. It was created in an existing 750 mÂ² space and includes a sensory garden with scented roses and shrubs, a large wildlife pond and a reflection area “to escape the hustle and bustle”.
âThe areas will be divided into sections growing food, medicinal herbs, as well as plants of aesthetic value,â Claire said.
“The herbal collection will be designed to soothe and heal the mind and body.”
While not fully organic, the plan is to minimize the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, thereby improving biodiversity for itself and to improve the overall health of the garden.
“A horticultural therapy garden is considered a safe and secure place to develop someone’s ability to blend socially, make friends, and learn practical skills that will help them be more independent,” said Claire.
“It is well known that gardening can be thoughtful activity as well as outdoor exercise, providing many mental, physical and spiritual benefits.”
The long-term plan is to involve the community in Holywood Wellbeing Garden, whether as individuals or in groups, so that they can savor its relaxing atmosphere or help nurture the next generation of plants.
âGardens are a source of joy for many and an emblem of change, of life and death, of dormancy and growth,â Claire said.
“What you see in November is just the beginning – over the next few months the area will continue to expand as plants grow and insects and birds are drawn to the site.”