Being outside and spending time in nature, whether walking in a forest, by the coast or even just sitting in a garden, can really help us feel mentally and physically refreshed. By now, you probably have heard of the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, which is summed up as spending time in nature, and the belief that doing so is beneficial to one’s health. Creating an indoor garden and bringing nature into your living room can have numerous health benefits.
Multiple studies suggest that there is a direct correlation between mental health and natural spaces. This realization is causing more people to create beautiful and natural living homes and spaces, not simply for aesthetics, but also for mental health and wellbeing.
HOW DO PLANTS AFFECT US?
The mild levels of stress that we feel in some form during the day are not bad for us, but prolonged stress can raise the levels of adrenaline and cortisol in our body that may lead to increased anxiety, as well as high blood pressure and obesity. Studies have shown that after a period of 20 to 30 minutes of gardening, or even just relaxing in the garden, participants show a significant decrease in cortisol levels and improved mood.
The addition of plants to an office environment has shown the ability to improve productivity and increase employee happiness. A 2004 study shows having our own garden or a green public space immediately opposite our home has the highest impact on decreasing our stress levels and sensitivity to stress.
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HOW CAN WE BUILD AN INDOOR GARDEN?
From a terrarium to a living wall, it’s really down to the individual. There are no hard and fast rules. It’s really just about how it makes you feel and the possibilities are many. Perhaps what inspires you is an indoor herb and salad garden, your own mini jungle of tropical plants, or a Victorian style vinery or solarium. People have been designing indoor gardens for centuries and there’s no shortage of resources online for inspiration.
For the space restricted here are some ideas to add a splash of green to your home.
A terrarium is basically a miniature self-contained ecosystem. It’s often created in large glass containers or bottles. Provided the conditions inside are correct, it can be completely neglected for months at a time. The sealed type allows light and heat to enter the terrarium through the glass walls, but the moisture is trapped inside so it simply collects as condensation and falls back down onto the plants. You can grow a variety of plants in a terrarium that may be otherwise difficult, including ferns, carnivorous plants and some tropical species such as the beautifully named Moon Valley Friendship plant. If you’re creative, no doubt you’ll have lots of fun designing and planting your own terrarium. Your imagination is really the limit with these. After all, it’s not just a garden but an entire miniature world.
Not just miniature trees but an art form, bonsai take many years to grow which could be what is so attractive about them. They live at their own steady pace entirely contrary to our hectic world. That alone could be the source for much reflection. Bonsai are grown to mimic full grown trees and often bare gnarled and twisted limbs as if sculpted by decades of wind and weather. They are definitely a dramatic feature to add to any room and deserve pride of place. Bonsai can be passed on from generation to generation, and the oldest known examples are believed to be 1,000 years old. The ultimate heirloom.
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For the output-oriented gardener, hydroponics is becoming more and more popular. Hydroponics, for the uninitiated, is the growing of plants without soil. The plants are instead supported on a neutral material, such as rockwool, and fed periodically with a nutrient rich water-based solution. The advantages are higher yields and faster growing time because the nutrients the plant requires are supplied directly to the roots with no interference from soil. The interest in hydroponics is even so much that one well-known Swedish furniture store recently brought out its own DIY hydroponics kit. Often hydroponics systems contain grow lights, which means the plants can be supplied with sufficient light and heat all year round. There’s a little more to learn with hydroponics before you get started, but if you want to get the maximum results from your efforts, hydroponics is the way to go.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of gardening we do indoors, it’s the joy it gives us while immersing ourselves in the process. Not only that we find relaxation in stressful times but also that we’re creating and nurturing something beautiful. It’s a sustainable hobby that also sustains you.