This challenging and unpredictable time, as difficult as it’s been, has offered a silver lining for us to slow down and reconnect with nature. A 2018 report from the National Library of Medicine links nature exposure to a plethora of health benefits. A recent report concludes that people who spend two hours a week outside in nature report good health and psychological well-being.

It’s no secret that many people find spending time in their garden a relaxing and uplifting experience. It might be surprising, however, that horticultural therapy is a real professional practice that uses plants and gardening to improve mental and physical health.

“Forest Bathing” by Dr. Qing Li describes a practice inspired by the Japanese tradition of shinrin-yoku, the art and science of soaking up the presence of trees. This practice is said to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune and cardiovascular systems, boost energy, enhance mood, increase creativity and concentration, and even help you lose weight and live longer. 

Another wonderful book to get you involved with nature in your own backyard is “Bringing Nature Home” by Doug Tallamy, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. Tallamy studies the interactions of animal, bird and insect communities observed in his own home garden. 

Let’s take this unprecedented chapter in our lives and make it a priority for every child and family to enjoy the benefits of nature.

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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