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Botanical Gardens

A stroll in the gardens

I love visiting my local botanical garden, the National Botanical Gardens, in Dublin and seeing the care and planning that has gone into providing a place of beauty in an urban space. I personally feel calmer and think bigger after a stroll along the beds, through the walled gardens and along the water ways. In colder months, I take refuge in the tropical warmth of the Palm House where Ludwig Wittgenstein, Viennese philosopher used to sit and write. I wonder if it was in these very gardens in Dublin he sat when he wrote:

“I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again ‘I know that that’s a tree’, pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: ‘This fellow isn’t insane. We are only doing philosophy.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein
A cork tree in the National Botanical Garden, Glasnevin Dublin, Ireland

I so enjoyed a recent guided walk in the Gardens on which our guide shared with us the health benefits of being in nature. We even encountered some surprising art works, double bonus for me: time in a garden with art too.

Surprised by “Tale of the Big Bad Fox” by ceramic artist Leona Devine

Studies on the benefits of being in green spaces like parks, forests, gardens and woodlands have shown benefits for mental health and sense of well-being.(WHO, 2021) Interestingly though, looking at all the studies collectively, time spent in a garden has demonstrated mainly neutral rather than positive benefits for mental health and subjective-wellbeing. It is however worth noting that there are fewer studies of the impact of gardens compared to, for example, parks. Being in a garden had similar effects for mental health of being on a sports pitch or at the beach. For subjective well-being, a garden has similar effects as being at the beach or a forest when considering levels of happiness, satisfaction with life and supporting the mind.

Time to consider nothing more than the leaves in the wind.

As a space to walk and admire the carefully nurtured beauty, I am reminded how fortunate I am to have the health asset of a botanical garden on my door step. While existing research is neutral on the subject, whether it’s the walking exercise, fresh air, friendly passer by or the flourishing inspiration from the flowers and foliage, I personally feel uplifted after time in my local public garden.

Do you have a favourite local garden?

Share it with us in the comments below.

References

World Health Organization. Green and blue spaces and mental health: new evidence and perspectives for action. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2021. Available from: https://www.euro.who.int/en/publications/abstracts/green-and-blue-spaces-and-mental-health-new-evidence-and-perspectives-for-action-2021

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