Gardening is a way of beautifying our yards and the surrounding community. However, what is often overlooked are the benefits that come with it beyond the pretty foliage and blooms. Digging past the surface of their beauty, gardening is an activity that provides a variety of physical, social and mental benefits.
“We have to get away from the concept that if we want to be gardeners, we have to work really hard and have a show place that people admire,” says Mary Yee, an Edina resident and Edina Garden Council member. “It is much more than that.”
We turned to Yee and Edina Garden Council treasurer Esther Haskvitz to find out more on how gardening contributes to their overall well-being.
Esther Haskvitz working in her garden.
The Mental Benefits
Gardening can make you feel happier and more relaxed, from the sense of stress release you get by simply getting outside to the extra intake of vitamin D you get from the sun—which both Haskvitz and Yee can attest to. Not only that, but some microbes found in soil may also activate serotonin production—making the very act of getting your hands in the dirt beneficial.
To make the most of your experience, Yee suggests just simply paying attention—taking a second to take in and admire your natural surroundings, even if it isn’t spectacular. Something as simple as a pollinating bee on the center of a flower or a dandelion in the lawn could spark a shift in mindset.
“The garden has been a solace and a refuge; it has really sustained me as I try to deal with … illness, difficult feelings and a sense of loss,” Yee says. “I can’t be grateful enough for how gardening has allowed me to feel better, heal and really restore my health.”
The Physical Benefits
As a physical activity, Haskvitz notes that gardening emulates an unintentional workout. This manual labor from consistent lifting, squatting and digging can provide a tremendous amount of cardiovascular movement to help burn calories and strengthen the heart. And it can also increase overall strength and flexibility.
Gardening can also offer the physical benefit of fueling the body if you choose to grow fruit or vegetables. Haskvitz, who has been a vegetable gardener most of her life, enjoys how you can keep active and build strength while producing something at the same time. “There is something really gratifying about growing your own food,” she says.
Mary Yee with one of the 80 peony varieties in her garden.
The Social Benefits
For both Haskvitz and Yee, gardening has provided them a safe place to bond with like-minded people. Finding herself connected within the Edina gardening community, Yee enjoys the friendships and the opportunities to visit the gardens of these friends and to learn from each other. She is also a member of both the Minnesota and American Peony societies. Growing upwards of 80 different varieties of peonies in her own garden, Yee says it is organizations like these that remind her that there are others out there who share the same passion as her.
For Haskvitz, it is the friendships she has made along the way. Joining the Edina Garden Council to get involved with the community (and learn more about gardening), she says she has also developed a strong network of pals both professionally and socially as a result.
Edina Garden Council; 952.826.1620; edinagardencouncil.org