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The science behind why people turn to gardening to cope with stress

Jaime Calder and her daughters plant some squash in her vegetable garden in Round Rock, Texas, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in the U.S., April 7, 2020. Picture taken April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Flores
Reuters/Sergio Flores
Nature's remedies.
  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter


In his 2019 essay on The Healing Power of Gardens, the late neurologist Oliver Sacks tried to grasp the mysterious curative effects of nature on the human body.

“I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains,” Sacks writes, “but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication,” he observes. “Clearly, nature calls to something very deep in us.”

Few would argue against the idea that gardens are good for our health and well-being, even if, like Sacks, we don’t know exactly why, or how. So it comes as no surprise that Covid-19 has inspired a revival in gardening, with many people working out their anxieties in backyard plots, potted plants, or herb-lined window sills. Confined to our homes with limited avenues to connect with others, seeing something blossom in our immediate surroundings is one form of home improvement guaranteed to provide a measure of happiness.

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