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Gardening for mental wellbeing, with Jo Whiley

Gardening for mental wellbeing, with Jo Whiley

It’s a well-known fact that gardening has both physical and mental health benefits, and we believe horticultural happiness is within reach, even if you don’t have a garden.  

Dobbies’ ambassador, and gardening-loving broadcaster, Jo Whiley talks about how gardening has helped her own mental wellbeing and the jobs she loves to do to relieve stress. 

Jo says: “There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not out in the garden doing something! I spend at least an hour every day gardening, and normally it’s how I start my morning, by getting up early and seeing what needs doing.” 

With regards to gardening for mental wellbeing, Jo speaks about how it has benefitted her. “Gardening has helped me in many way, including physically and mentally”, comments Jo. “You don’t have to be physically strong for gardening but it certainly helps and keeps you fit. I also find the fresh air and being outdoors is great for my mental wellbeing as it helps me to process things, calm down, and clear my head. 

“If you’re stressed, gardening can be extremely soothing. For example, weeding is particularly therapeutic if you’re feeling angry as you can really exert yourself! I find being surrounded by nature and completely enveloped in gardening fantastic for my mental health, and even just listening to the birds outside is beneficial. 

“I also find pruning enjoyable as you can get really creative with this and completely transform the look of your garden. Container planting is another one I enjoy as it’s almost like painting a picture with all the bright colours, and you see the display come to life instantly.” 

When it comes to reaping the rewards of gardening, Jo says you don’t need a huge lawn to feel the benefits. She comments: “If you live in a flat or don’t have the outdoor space to garden, houseplants are a good place to start. You can watch them grow and care for them, and they give you something to focus on to take your mind off everyday stresses.  

“If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony, these are great places to nurture plants in containers, or even hanging baskets if you’re short on space. Alternatively, if you don’t have an outdoor area, you can grow plants and herbs from seed on your windowsill and this will allow you to nurture their growth and reap the benefits of gardening from the comfort of your home. 

“If growing indoors isn’t an option, you can also seek out gardening groups in your local area and help out any garden projects in need. Not only will this give you the mental wellbeing advantages of gardening, but it’ll give you the social benefits of group activity too.” 

For those just beginning their horticulture journey, or don’t know where to begin, Jo suggests starting small. Jo says: “If you’re looking for a good place to start, planting in containers is a really accessible way to enjoy the benefits of gardening on a small scale before you tackle a bigger project. Have fun planting colourful flowers and creating a mini garden in a pot to brighten your outdoor space. If you’re looking for inspiration, explore open gardens in your area or take a wander around your local garden centre. Seeing what other people can do is a wonderful way to feel inspired, and a garden centre like Dobbies is a great way to chat to like-minded people and get advice on what to plant when.”