Looking for peace and serenity? Then step outside into your garden. Alistair Griffiths, RHS Director of Science and Collections, explains the critical importance of outdoor spaces for our sense of wellbeing
Gardens are attractive places in which to spend time and the reason they’re so appealing is because they present a beautiful view, a tranquil place to sit and savour the moment. When we’re in a garden our attention is attracted to the myriad colours, shapes and repetitive patterns of plants and foliage.
Colour has a huge effect on our emotions. Plants with strong colours such as intense reds, oranges and yellows excite the emotions. They make us feel happy and help us recharge. At the opposite side of the spectrum blues and greens are relaxing and calming – sit among them if you’re looking for some restful time.
Look closely at plants – there are plenty with repeated patterns in them which are helpful to us. They’re known as fractals – repeated shapes of ever decreasing or increasing scale. They’re found throughout nature, for example, in the patterns in green ferns or the branching in trees. We’re drawn to fractals because they’re easy to process, so looking at them takes the brain gently ‘offline’, allowing it time to recalibrate.
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