By Kathy Brown.
Gardening can reduce stress. How?
According to Psychology Today, there are nine ways that gardening can reduce stress:
- Keep it a hobby, not a chore- plan the size and maintenance requirements accordingly
- Make friends with nature – Slow down and reconnect with the natural world
- Leave your phone inside – immerse yourself in the experience
- Be mindful of the moment – soak up the feast for the senses
- Repeat a garden mantra – Get into a cadence while weeding; combine it with breathing exercises.
- Cultivate your creativity – it’s effective stress control
- Connect with neighbors – during COVID-19 we’re going to change this one to share vegetables with your neighbors or your local food bank in a no-touch manner.
- Welcome wildlife visitors – invite birds and butterflies by placing flowers that attract them
- Revel in a job well done – gardening gives you a sense of accomplishment
Why does gardening reduce stress? According to stress.org, gardens can reduce stress in quite a few ways:
- personal creativity – In just 45 minutes, you can significantly reduce your levels of cortisol by being creative, regardless of your skill level
- mental focus and mindfulness – Feel the tension slip away as you simply be
- Reduction of cortisol – Cortisol is the hormone produced by the body in times of stress. The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful time for many of us. We’re working from home, we got laid off, our kids have changed to Distance Learning that we have to oversee, we’re running out of toilet paper and there’s none to be found… When we spend time outside in our garden, we regulate our emotions more efficiently than when we’re cooped up indoors.
- physical activity – Getting down on your hands and knees prevents arthritis and can keep your joints and back supple. The regular bursts of activity increases your rate of cardio
- Vitamin D – vitamin D is produced by your body when it is out in the sunlight.
Not sure how to start a garden? Look HERE.
What if you don’t have room for a garden? Or your renting a house and aren’t allowed to change the landscaping? You’re in luck. Bring some plants inside! “According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, active interaction with indoor plants (like touching and smelling) can reduce physiological and psychological stress,” according to Forbes.com. “Research also highlights that rooms with houseplants contain up to 60% less airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without any greenery.” So get some flowers to brighten up your room, or plants to help your indoor air quality. What about growing herbs on the windowsill?
The local nurseries and garden centers around town are here to help you with your outdoor and indoor needs. They have all adapted to the ever-changing COVID-19 rules.
Halfinger Farms’ Greenhouses & Dancing Daffodils, Higganum
Halfinger Farms’ Dancing Daffodils are in their prime. Picking should be good for another week or two, depending on the weather, says Jen Halfinger. Bring a little sunshine into your house. And if you don’t want to pick your own daffodils, you can call ahead, and pick up a bundle with their curbside service.
The greenhouses at Halfinger Farms, located at 489 Candlewood Hill Road in Higganum, are opening on May 1, 2020 so that you can get your lettuce starts, your annuals, your indoor plants to perk up your house. Halfingers grows everything they sell; they are a full time family farm, and during COVID-19 it’s truly a family farm. They have had to let all of their help go, and they have been doing everything just as a family of three, and working long hours to compensate for the loss of help. “Plants are living things that require great attention,” explained Jen. “There is a great deal of planning required in order to produce a quality on-time crop of any item.” This is their 25th year greenhouse growing, and they have adapted many times in the past; this year is no different.
“We are growing an excellent selection of flowers, veggie plants, herbs and so much more,” said Jen Halfinger. “We grow everything we sell, and pride ourselves in growing top quality plants.” Only one customer group will be allowed in each greenhouse at a time.
“We pride ourselves in being three things to our greenhouse visitors:
- Serve as a living natural greenhouse museum of plants by providing interesting and informative signage for each plant. Customers read, learn, and ponder as they shop.
- Provide an environment that would be likened to an art gallery of plants. Our plants are our creations. They are unique. Their artist is us.
- A place to buy quality plants of all types at reasonable prices.”
Customers are encouraged to bring a box for the plants they purchase. They will also be taking phone ahead orders with curbside pickup. Call 860-345-4609 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Town & Country Nurseries, Haddam
Town & Country Nurseries, located at 1036 Saybrook Road, in Haddam, is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call 860-345-8581 or email email@example.com. “There has been so much going on lately in the world and we wanted to let everyone know we are here to brighten everyone’s lives with life itself,” said Catherine. “There’s nothing more spectacular than a weeping cherry tree or dogwood in full bloom.”
They have flower trees, shrubs, evergreens, fruiting trees, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries, and blueberry bushes as well. “I am so thrilled that we were able to get some new interesting items this year, like our 10 gallon fruit trees, the beautiful cryptomeria, and the crabapples are just starting to bud up,” Catherine said. They also have an assortment of succulents and cacti. Perennials will start arriving this week. “Our home-grown hanging baskets look spectacular and are almost ready for sale. Bedding plants, vegetables, and herbs start arriving at the end of April to the first of May.”
Currently, Town & Country Nurseries is offering curb-side pick up only. Call them at 860-345-8581 to start your order and pay over the phone; they accept all major credit cards. They will let you know when it’s ready for pick up. Another change with COVID-19 is that their Florist Department is shut down. Don’t worry – for Mother’s Day, they will have bouquets and arrangements, as well as hanging baskets, garden décor, and rose and hydrangea bushes.
They are also delivering mulch, top soil, and compost to the surrounding local areas. “There is a three-yard minimum with a delivery fee,” explained Catherine. “[Dave is] keeping busy with his crew doing spring clea-ups, plantings, installing patios and walkways, and general lawn care on our landscaping end of the business. If you’re in any need of landscaping, hardscaping, or general lawn care, give us a call to set up an appointment.”
Town & Country Nurseries has been busy getting ready for online ordering as well. Many items are online now, and soon everything will be on their website to order, so you will be able to order and pay online, and then it will be ready for pick up 24 hours later. “Cathy is always adding new items onto the site, so check back regularly,” said Catherine. “If there’s something you don’t see on the site, just give us a call. We have no problems taking specialty orders on plants and dried good materials.”
“This has certainly been a different way of doing business,” said Catherine. “It’s not how I was raised to interact with customers in our family business but you can be certain that beneath my mask is a smile for the gratitude I and my family feel for your continuing to do business with us through these difficult times. We continue to appreciate your business, we know there are other choices, especially with the need for more online shopping lately, and we are so pleased that you choose our family garden center. Looking forward to seeing you all without masks!”
Running Brook Farms, Killingworth
Running Brook Farms located at 219 Route 80 in Killingworth is open for business. Monday through Saturday, they’re open 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (loading stops at 3:00 p.m.), and Sundays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (call for availability). They are open in store and for delivery of mulch and topsoil, and they are also offering curbside pickup. “First off, we are so grateful to be deemed essential and provide a positive outlet to our community,” said Becky Goetsch. “Just call and we will work with you to fill the order, make the payment over the phone, and place your goods out front for pick up. We are flexible and try our best to be accommodating.”
Their greenhouses remain open for browsing. “Customers are encouraged and absolutely welcome to get out and enjoy the greenhouse filled with spring annuals, beautiful ferns, houseplants and succulents, however, we are committed to social distancing and will limit the number of customers shopping indoors if necessary; also offering gloves at the entrance while supplies last,” said Becky. “It is an open and expansive greenhouse full of life . . . especially with all the spring plants starting to flower. Every day someone is expressing true gratitude just to get out of the house and soak up everything plants offer, be it buying air purifying house plants (which we have a large selection of) or simply browsing; just soaking it all in is awesome too. And it brings me so much joy and gratitude to be able to offer this to the community – and hopefully brightening someone’s day.”
In their retail store, they offer a wide array of handcrafted items, as well as trusted CBD products. According to Becky, “CBD has been show to be anti-inflammatory, reduce anxiety, and aide in sleep, so whether it’s sore muscles from gardening or stress from being up late worrying, we can help you out!”
They deliver compost, topsoil, and mulch. If you’re starting a garden or building your first raised bed, they can help you figure out how much material is needed and coordinate delivery as well.
Call (860) 663-5522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to place your order!
Alleviate Your Stress
So go rake out that long-neglected flower bed, find a sunny spot to start a garden, or plant some seeds and put them on a windowsill. Start small – buy a container and start a small herb garden outside. Maybe build one raised bed to grow some tomatoes and peppers.
Visit one of our local nurseries, or call and set up a curbside pickup, and get some green in your life. It will alleviate some stress, and perk up your surroundings. You’ll probably be seeing a lot of them for another month in quarantine.
Photos provided by nursery/garden centers; photo of little girl in Dancing Daffodils by Cynthia Cole.