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Outdoors is a place to welcome guests, an area for well-being. Get yours ready for Garden Day

Gardening stimulates our five senses. Research suggests gardening is beneficial in boosting fitness and flexibility and strength, and is good for lifting a low mood and reducing stress.

Sunday marks the third annual South African Garden Day, where gardeners throughout the country are encouraged to take a day off to admire their handiwork.

Garden Day Flower Crown Ambassador, Professor Nox Makunga, a medicinal fynbos researcher from the University of Stellenbosch, says apart from their aesthetic beauty, gardens have many healing properties linked to psycho-spiritual healing.

Professor Nox Makunga is a Garden Day Flower Crown Ambassador. Picture: Supplied

Healing spaces

“A space that will be of benefit to the body, mind and spirit is central to the design of a healing garden. It should be a space that offers an intrinsic biological connection to nature to allow for physical and psychological health. Such gardens promote well-being, alter the mood, relieve stress and even assist with overcoming physical ailments such as pain,” says Makunga.

How do you immerse yourself in healing and therapeutic gardening? Consider these ideas:

* Create a welcoming entrance and place within the garden to rest and relax.

* Include colour and light – this opens the space, attracts the attention of guests and draws the eye to aspects of the garden.

* Add a water as it is the garden’s life source. If you can’t use a water feature due to restrictions, add a birdbath topped with drainage water from cooking vegetables.

* Welcome wildlife by adding features that attract beneficial insects, reptiles, birds and small mammals to your garden.

* Introduce medicinal and edible plants.

Even furry visitors are welcome in the garden. Picture: Kay Montgomery

“There are an estimated 4000 species recorded as having ethnobotanical use in South Africa. In the Western Cape more than 300 species have been recorded as being of medical use,” says Makunga.

“I start by understanding which plants are of health benefit and which have proven scientific backing as important local medicinal plants and incorporate those in my landscaping plan.”

* Cut off the blooms of flowering plants and display them in your home. A behavioural research study conducted by Dr Nancy Etcoff of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School revealed that when fresh cut flowers are present in the home, people feel more compassionate toward others and are less anxious and depressed.

* Make tussie-mussies and display them in bedrooms and bathrooms. These Victorian-era posies are easy to make from aromatic plants and herbs. Gather a small bunch of flowers and foliage and bind with string or ribbon, or wrap in a paper doily.

Grow herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes. Picture: Kay Montgomery

For more details about Garden Day:

* for inspiration or to upload your own Garden Day photos.

* On social media tag @gardendaysa or #gardenday

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