Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Depression ‘can be beaten by gardening’


Stepping outside and getting to work with the garden tools can be a great way for people to cheer themselves up if they are feeling down.

Indeed, Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians across the pond in the UK, is calling on doctors to start prescribing a session outdoors as a treatment for depression.

Speaking to national newspaper the Independent, he argues that drugs can be prohibitively expensive, but one of the key benefits of gardening is how accessible it is – anyone can engage with the activity, spending as much or as little as they see fit.

Furthermore, it could have a near universal appeal, so it is likely to go down well with almost anyone.

In an article for The Wenatchee World, master gardener Gloria Kupferman claimed humans are hardwired to be predisposed to gardening.

She attributed this to there being something in our DNA that leads us to really get a kick out of outdoor physical activity, as well as a fascination with nature that goes back to the Garden of Eden.

Garden of eden

Sir Richard appears to broadly agree, expressing disbelief as to why more people do not do garden more often:

“I always wonder why people go to the gym when there is a green gym outdoors for us all – and, what’s more, it’s free. Gardening burns off calories – makes joints supple and is fantastic exercise. It is a physical activity that has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and dementia.”

“I have, for some time, thought doctors should prescribe a course of gardening for people who come to them with depression or stroke.”

Furthermore, it was noted that some tasks that can be undertaken in the garden can be more beneficial than others.

For instance, sowing seeds can be quite exerting and can come with extra health benefits further down the line.

If healthy vegetables such as carrots, turnips, radishes, as well as rocket and lettuce are grown, this will make it even more convenient for the individual to enjoy a balanced diet while eating the fruit of their labour.

Herbs can also be grown in pots or trays in a greenhouse and can be used to add new and unusual flavour combinations to almost any recipe.

Pruning is also an essential consideration when looking to keep your plants in good health, as it can ensure they receive the maximum nutrition available to them and limits the chances of disease spreading.