Creating a wellness garden is one of the best garden design ideas for just about anyone, especially now that the gardens are so much more important to us. The pandemic has forced many to rethink what gardens are for and to note just how good being outside and gardening are for both our physical and mental health.
Shawna Coronado, author, columnist, blogger, photographer, and spokesperson for organic gardening has written a book about creating a wellness garden, The Wellness Garden: Grow, Eat, and Walk Your Way to Better Health. The book is full of countless brilliant tips for transforming your backyard into a sanctuary for health and wellbeing, as well as providing balanced advice on growing your own food for health.
Thinking about what wellness actually means, Shawna writes that it is 'multidimensional and holistic, encompassing mental and spiritual wellbeing, and the environment.' The top tips from her book bring these together beautifully – and anyone can incorporate them into their garden.
1. Landscaping with vegetables
Some people like growing vegetables in pots, while others dedicate a whole section of their garden to kitchen gardening. However, those with smaller outdoor spaces may be reluctant to completely dedicate their garden to vegetables. Shawna offers landscaping with vegetables as one of her top small vegetable garden ideas.
What that means is thinking about the shape and look of the plants at the same time as their nutritional value: 'landscaping with vegetables is a remarkable way to supplement a fresh food list,' writes Shawna. She recommends choosing a variety of good-looking vegetables to fill your garden borders: 'vegetables and herbs that have more color typically have more vitamin content. So, select colorful ornamental edibles for your garden for healthier harvests.'
2. Mix flowers and herbs
This tip again combines a concern for our health with our need for beauty in the garden. When thinking about how to create a herb garden, many people tend to just plant lots of herbs in the same space, which doesn't always create the best look.
Shawna suggests that 'mixing flowers and herbs together can be delightful to the senses and also supply your kitchen garden.'
Herbs are also excellent pest repellents, making them great companion plants for roses and other higher-maintenance plants. Herbs and flowers also deepen the sensory dimension of your garden, filling it with scent.
3. Design your garden to make gardening easy
While gardening has been proven time and time again to be beneficial to our health, it can present challenges for people who already suffer from chronic conditions or limited mobility. If this is the case, a wellness garden is a garden that will make the whole process as effortless as possible.
Shawna writes that a wellness garden for someone with limited mobility or chronic pain, for example, 'might include elevated vegetable beds and living wall gardens, with drip systems installed so that gardeners do not have to bend in order to plant and water.' You can learn how to make a living wall in our guide.
Anna's background is in academic research – she is the author of London Writing of the 1930s, published by Edinburgh University Press. She is a keen urban gardener and has an impressive collection of house plants.
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