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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 639: XXVI International Horticultural Congress: Expanding Roles for Horticulture in Improving Human Well-Being and Life Quality

HOME GARDENERS VALUE STRESS REDUCTION AND INTERACTION WITH NATURE

Authors:   C. Catanzaro, E. Ekanem
Keywords:   benefits of gardening, human issues in horticulture, people-plant interactions, mental health, leisure activities
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2004.639.35
Abstract:
A written survey instrument was developed in 2001 to collect information from home gardeners on the types of plants they grew, their purchasing habits, the types of gardening activities in which they participated and enjoyed, and their perceptions of how important various aspects of gardening were to them. The survey was conducted at two events: the Tennessee Green Industries Field Day (McMinnville), and the Tennessee State Fair (Nashville). Eighty nine percent of respondents grew annuals in their home gardens, while 69-74% reported growing herbaceous perennials, shrubs, trees, and edible crop plants. Among those who reported purchases during the previous year, average expenditures were highest for trees ($95), with approximately half that amount spent for each of the following: annuals, perennials, and shrubs. With regard to specific activities undertaken, 86% or more of home gardeners engaged in planting, watering, weed control, pruning, mulching/composting, and mowing. Less than one-half of respondents participated in water gardening or hardscaping. Gardeners reported weed control and planting as the most time consuming activities. Planting was chosen most frequently as the most enjoyable activity. Respondents rated the statements “Home gardens provide a reduction in feelings of stress” and “Home gardens provide interaction with nature” as very important. Respondents rated as important that home gardens provide an opportunity for self-expression, physical and physiological benefits, and restorative experiences. Less important to home gardeners surveyed were aspects of cultural or ethnic representation, symbolism, and economic benefits. Results suggest that although gardeners select from a wide range of plant materials and activities in an individualistic manner, the interaction with nature in a nurturing environment provides a number of benefits important to them, including mental well-being.
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