Your healthy green and pleasant land

Travel Talk

I remember making daisy chains when I was a little girl during walks in the park with my Aunt Lucy. I can remember the vivid yellow petals, the floral scent and the magic as nature unfolded before my eyes – then and now. They are such happy memories which have now entwined with many others spent walking through enchanting walled gardens, admiring landscaped grounds encircling historic houses and watching rippling reflections in streams and lakes.

Medicinal plants at the Chelsea Physic Garden Recent wellness findings have dug deep to reveal that our environment affects our health, attitude and wellbeing.  The Health Foundation states that conditions such as social isolation and type 2 diabetes can be positively improved by having an allotment or a green space nearby to encourage us to toil the soil and tread its pathways.

There’s a healing touch too. Flowering and foliage plants can help to heal by reducing fatigue and triggering a positive psychological response. Horticultural therapy in hospitals and nursing homes is evidence of the power of plants and flowers on health. When patients tend plants, they benefit physically and mentally especially those suffering with dementia, musculoskeletal pain and brain injuries. Back in 1673, the Chelsea Physic Garden in London was established as the Apothecaries’ Garden to grow plants to be used as medicines.

More details on medicinal plants

So, if you like gardening, tending window boxes, talking to plants and strolling through botanical gardens then you are probably high up on the wellness ladder! And you’ve definitely come up roses when you visit the many garden destinations up and down the country and around the world. From Kew to Keukenhof, there are gardens which dress palaces, mazes that test our navigational skills, landscaped enclaves to hide in and memorising water features to reflect on life.

Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny You don’t have to have green fingers to appreciate the rolling landscapes of Capability Brown designed gardens, formal displays, horticultural talks, tours and walks. Up and down the country and destinations across the pond, there are gardens to delight and species to explore.

There’s Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny in northern France. This former home with its elaborate gardens provided the canvas to this well-loved Impressionist painter, famed for his water lily series. If formal French garden design takes your fancy, the Gardens of Versailles is a fine example. With 300 hectares of forest, hundreds of acres of flower beds, 35 kilometres of canals, 600 fountains and 372 statues it’s easy to believe it is one of the largest gardens in the world. The gardens of Versailles were commissioned by Louis XIV in 1661 and took forty years to complete. In 1979, UNESCO recognized these gardens and the palace as a world heritage site.

Palm House at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Royalty also planted the seeds of the impressive royal botanic gardens in Kew. Princess Augusta (Mother of King George III) originally designed the gardens back in 1759 which spreads over 326 acres of land. Today this is also a world heritage site with more than 50,000 different species of plants, art galleries, green houses, climatic zones and a natural space to feature the amazing glass creations of Dale Chihuly and the sculptures of Henry Moore.

In Spring, head to Keukenhof situated in Lisse Western Netherlands. Home to seven million flowering plants, it is often regarded as ‘the garden of Europe’. It’s the place to enjoy the tulips in bloom as well as bluebells, hyacinths, narcissi and daffodils. Choose to meander along 15km walking paths to admire the artwork and fountains or take a boat ride through the gardens.

Keukenhof Garden Research shows that splashes of living green can lower stress, heighten your mood, increase productivity while, according to NASA, plants remove indoor pollutants. So why not turn your house into a healthy home. The many flower shows, local and national, can provide the inspiration and know-how. Historic gardens and manicured displays allow you to be at one with nature. Create your own lasting memories whether they are meadows of wild flowers, landscaped borders of colour or woodland carpets of bluebells – they hold that magic spell cast by nature – that of beauty, peace and serenity.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Shearings for escorted coach tours to the Keukenhof Garden and to Monet’s Garden in Giverny. 

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Jane Wilson

Founder & editor of the Wellness Traveller

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