Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nature More Calming Than Cities

Well, that heading shouldn't come as any surprise.

What gardener doesn't enjoy spending time with plants, or ache to get their hands in the soil during the long winter? Who doesn't miss their gardens when away from home, perhaps even traveling only in their garden's off season? Who doesn't run up to their huge yucca blooms that have opened (for the first time in three years) immediately after returning from a trip (without even going inside first) to give them a big hug?

Oh, right. That last part may just be me!

But now there's scientific proof that I'm not nuts. You see, scientists at the University of Michigan did a recent study that found that walking in nature is not only good for the soul, but it improves memory and attention. Surprisingly, people who walked for the same amount of time in urban settings did not see these same improvements!

According to a related Boston Globe article, several studies have also found that children with attention-deficit disorder have fewer symptoms in natural settings.

I know I feel more peaceful and relaxed in my garden, and I'm glad that what gardeners have known for so long -- that nature replenishes the soul -- is being studied seriously and is making it into more mainstream media.

Now... Please excuse me while I go whisper sweet nothings to my snow-covered evergreens!


  1. Not only is it calming to the mind and soul but it's also non threatening.
    I work in a VERY distracting environment and I guess many others do also in one form or my gardens,birds,forest,and ocean help keep me centered.
    We need that intangible peace of mind found in nature.

  2. Oh yes, I relate to this Monica! It always soothes me to experience nature and just experience the 'now' and become one with my surroundings, clearing my mind of the debris of the day, so to speak. I tend to get somewhat detached from nature during the winter because it seems so dreary out but it's there for me, and your post is a reminder to get outside despite the dreariness. I will try to take you up on that today!

  3. I agree with you all the way-but(there's always a but!) I also find it amusing that it tok a University study how many years to find out what most of us have always known.

    On the bright side, maybe they will do something useful with the study like try to make more 'nature' areas. :}

  4. I read that the other day...we gardeners have always known it! Monica...After returning from a trip away from home, I run outside to look at the garden...just after I pet the cat.


  5. Hi Monica, The only bad thing about walking in nature is the frost bite;) Really, it makes sense to me.

  6. I have gardened away several horrible headaches. Gardening is the best balancing activity (maybe after meditation and Yoga) ever! Sometimes it even has meditation and Yoga in it! Grin.

    Der Würfel auf dem Siena sitzt ist, ehrlich gesagt, vom Sperrmüll. ; ) Neu hätte ich mir so etwas nicht gekauft, da es klar ist, dass Siena & Chilli daran die Krallen wetzen... Er ist sehr beliebt.

  7. I'm with Beckie, trust academia to finally be discovering what us gardeners have known all along!

    Glad to have it confirmed...

  8. Not sure if nature is helping me Monica. I am too busy admiring all the pretties and sometimes get lost in it all-I only hope there is not hole in front of me:)

  9. Patsi,
    For me, it's more than being in nature, it's the physical act of working with soil and touching plants. :)

    I think the only place I really relax and can lose myself is when gardening. Instead of buying a parking sticker so I can park outside my work building, I've been parking at a mall ten minutes' walk away since July. it has been COLD this winter, i can tell you. it's also dark int he mornings, and there is not much nature to see, but I still enjoy the walking!

    Oh, universities are amusing, that's for sure (I've worked at one the last 8 years). You see, professors can't just teach; they must also publish journal articles, which means they have to conduct studies to write about. I work in a research unit not affiliated with an academic department, so I'm not positive how research is done in academic units, but for us, we have to get grants to sponsor the work. So some corporation probably paid the professors to gather official data that nature is good. :)

    *Normally* I go in first to hug the cat (that would be James. Fiona is a little standoffish for a while to register her displeasure at my failure in having been available as her bipedal servant!), but in the instance of the yucca, i really did run up to it first. I'd had it several years and that was its first year in bloom--huge stalks and beautiful flowers!

    I walk 10 minutes to and from my car each day to get to work, and I can tell you my legs are tingly
    this morning!!

    Britta Cat,
    I can't meditate anywhere other than in the garden. Ah ja, "curbside shopping." Mache ich auch, und eine gute Idee fuer Sachen die nur gewetzt wird!

    As I mentioned under Beckie's comment, professors also need to publish, so they need to do research--hopefully they secured the funding themselves; it wouldn't have been part of what their main salary is for.

    Or as my niece used to say when she was little, "Well, duh!"

    I'm assuming by "pretties" you mean garden "doodads," not plants! I also enjoy a bit of garden ornamentation, and it is easy to trip (I do that a lot on garden tours!!).


  10. We're part of it. It's literally going back to our roots.

    Thanks for becoming the thirtieth follower of LOOSE AND LEAFY Monica.


  11. Hi Monica, your latest entry made me tootle off outside and have a wander round my garden for a while, so thank you for reminding me it was still there while I've been so busy doing other things! I don't have a yucca to hug, but I do have a gorgeous old oak instead - oh, and I chat to the plants as me and Ceefer the cat go past!

  12. It is what puts a smile on my face every morning when I look out the window...

  13. All living things to best in their natural habitat. Why should the human animal be an exception? Trust the scientists to kick in a door already wide open. ;-)

  14. Monica, I even enjoy weeding! And if I've been gone more than a day or two, the first thing I do is head 'round the house to see how everything is doing in the gardens! :-)

    Say... how are the seedlings doing? It's not "stealing" to use the logo when you post!! (Summer 2008 Inspirations)

  15. I couldn't agree more...whenever we come home from holiday I have to get out of the car and wander through my garden saying hello to everything...even though I haven't opened the boot of the car and taken the luggage out yet... :)

    Everything in the garden restores my soul. It's where I work, dream, concentrate, find solitude, feel at one with nature and 'drop off' on sunny days :)

  16. Now why doesn't this scientific study surprise me ?
    You are not alone Monica - when we have been away I always look round the garden and greenhouse before setting foot in the house :)

  17. I think I read the same article; the effect nature has on children with ADHD is something I hope parents of these children notice and try out.
    I always wonder, though, how much money was spent on such a study--most of us could have given them this information for free:)