It’s already a well known fact that surrounding yourself with flowers and plants, and spending time in gardens and green outdoor spaces can boost wellbeing, but how exactly can we reap the benefits when it comes to growing plants in our own garden and using flower arrangements?
Alexandra Noble, designer of the RHS Health & Wellbeing Garden at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, has created a garden that focuses specifically on creating an oasis of calm.
The garden, which is one of five in the brand new RHS Lifestyle Gardens category, features circular paths that promote meditation alongside aromatic herbs which fill the air with calming scent.
Alexandra shares her top choices of flowers that can boost the mood and settle the mind. Read on for her suggestions below:
1. Yarrow – Achillea millefolium
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Yarrow works wonderfully in both the garden and in flower arrangements. It stands well and its flat heads are a great contrast to other flower shapes. As the flowers age they blush pink around the edges and their solidity works particularly well with the billowy fronds of fennel or zingy clouds of Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle).
Yarrow is used as a sedative for anxiety and helps relieve high blood pressure.
2. Chives – Allium tuberosum
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Chives look great planted along the edges of a border and their fluffy pom-pom heads making a great foil for other plants in arrangements. They also taste great and make a wonderful and extremely pretty garnish.
Chives can aid sleep and memory retention and also help with depression by blocking a chemical that inhibits the production of the ‘happy’ hormones, serotonin and dopamine.
3. Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare
With feathery, bright green leaves and flat umbels of small yellow flowers, the pleasant-smelling fennel is the perfect choice for a sunny herb garden and is great for the back of a border.
As a relaxant and great nectar source for bees, the seeds, leaves and roots are used medicinally, and a cup of fennel tea is an effective remedy to improve digestive health and to boost the immune system.
This gentle and delicate flower is perfect for wildflower or ‘hedgerow’ style arrangements. It’s used for fighting anxiety and depression and acts as a mild sedative which calms nerves and reduces anxiety. Vapours from the flowers travel to the olfactory part of the brain which turns off tension and reduces the body’s stress response.
5. Valeriana officinalis – Valerian
With rounded clusters of small pink or white flowers, Valeriana officinalis is perfect for flower borders and beds, and city & courtyard gardens. Cats are said to love the fragrance of this easy-to-grow plant too. Valerian root is mainly used as an herbal sleep aid but has been shown to relieve pain, and can be used for anxiety and nervousness too.