HEALTH: All about Flower Power; Looking after Your Garden Can Help You Look after Your Health. John Von Radowitz Explains
Byline: John von Radowitz
Eating plants is well known to benefit health, hence the message to include five helpings of fruit and veg in your diet every day. But what about tending plants, or merely admiring them? Some say that can improve health, too.
In fact, horticultural experts have launched a new campaign urging everyone to spend at least 20 minutes a day gardening or just being around plants.
They want the health establishment to accept the guidance in a new Recommended Daily Allowance for exposure to plants and green spaces.
The pounds 1.7 million PlantforLife campaign, which is backed by the European Union, has been launched by the Horticultural Trades Association.
It aims to increase people's involvement with plants in the home, garden and workplace.
A report from the campaign highlights mounting evidence showing the psychological and physical health benefits of plants.
The idea that gardening, and exposure to plants, can make you feel better is not new. Hundreds of years ago it was the popular view in Britain that the countryside was much healthier for the body than towns or cities.
This idea led directly to the introduction of public parks and gardens, described by the 17th century writers Nicholas Culpeper and John Evelyn as a way of restoring the 'Garden of Eden'.
Pleasant fragrances from plants and herbs were widely thought to be healthgiving, in contrast to the noxious odours of the city.
In America, the concept of 'therapeutic horticulture' dates back to 1768, when Benjamin Rush considered that digging the soil had a curative effect on the mentally ill.
The first undergraduate degree in horticultural therapy was awarded by Michigan State University in 1955.
In Britain, the charity Thrive believes that gardening 'helps people grow' emotionally, physically and mentally and is now researching the benefits of horticulture as a tool for improving the quality of life of older and disabled people. …