Thursday, 5 April 2012

Green Woman, Green Lion, and Green Flower Power

What’s the common thread between a woman sleeping in a Chelsea Flower Show garden, a hospital report and the National Trust?  It’s the power of green.  Parents who say “Greens are good for you” can now feel vindicated on more than one level. 

This week, the National Trust launched a consultation on what it called ‘nature deficit disorder’ amongst Britain’s children.  BBC Environment Correspondent Richard Black, reporting the story, quoted from author and campaigner Richard Louv, who believes there’s a mental and physical health cost in limiting human beings’ access to nature.  From my experiences as a part-time gardener and garden adviser for a regional hospital, I heartily agree with him.

Colour therapists will tell you that green is calming, relaxing and balancing, with all its natural-world associations.  Others say this is a result of its physiological effects, slowing heart rates and breathing.  Research in the last decade though has gone far further than that.  CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, in its recommendations on hospital improvements said access to a hospital garden or even just to views of nature out of a window, improved patient outcomes.   The power of ‘green’ reduced stress, anxiety and depression;  helped patients summon up their own inner healing resources;  reduced the need for pain killers, and speeded up recovery times. With that kind of evidence,  why are hospitals still like concrete jungles instead of green oases?

Working with the hospital gardening team, we tried our best to make the small space we had into a green oasis, and even celebrated the power of green by installing a brave but kind green lion, designed by Steve Manning of Topiary Art Designs, at the entrance to the children’s unit.  On a miniature scale, we were paying homage to the phenomenal plantsmanship shown in the 4head Garden of Dreams designed by Marney Hall and Heather Yarrow for the 2006 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  That really was a triumph of green! 

With the arrival, as Shakespeare put it, of  ‘well-apparelled April’ this week, along with a small but gratefully-received amount of rain for East Anglia, spiritually-restorative greenness has at last returned to the verges and hedgerows.  In the garden, green flower is power blossoming around me as I spin.  Making art yarn mirror life is never easy, and the sheer multiplicity of spring greens adds another level of difficulty.  Here’s hoping nature will accept my attempts with good grace! 

May good things blossom for you this week, whether at your spinning wheel, in your garden, or inside yourself.

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