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

THE MEANING OF GARDENS AND GARDENING IN DAILY LIFE: A COMPARISON BETWEEN GARDENERS WITH SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS AND HEALTHY PARTICIPANTS

Author:   A.M. Unruh
Keywords:   leisure, cancer, coping strategies, well-being, people/plant interactions
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2004.639.7
Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning of gardens and gardening in daily life for people with serious health problems. A phenomenological method was used. Twenty-seven women and 15 men were interviewed about the meaning of gardens and gardening in their daily life. Eighteen participants were diagnosed with cancer. The majority of the participants were aged 45 to 65 years. Approximately 2/3 of the gardens were located in small towns or rural areas of Nova Scotia. The interviews were face-to-face and 1 to 3 hours in length. They were audiotaped and transcribed. The interview questions were semi-structured and used as conversational prompts to explore interest in gardening; relationships between gardening, health and well-being; and frustrations with gardening. Most participants were interviewed once in each season, that is, four times per year. Comparisons were drawn between the meaning of gardening for people with cancer and people without cancer. The data analysis used a constant comparative approach based on a construction of an emergent set of themes and sub-themes from the interview transcripts. The study revealed important benefits of gardening on physical , emotional, social, and spiritual well-being, and highlighted a key role of gardening as a coping strategy for living with stressful life experiences. The prospective nature of the study revealed the personal and subjective ways in which interest in gardening might change in response to the personís own situation and needs.

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