The theme of this year's Chelsea Flower Show in London is mental health and loneliness.

By Kelly Vaughan
January 27, 2020

In addition to transforming your yard, horticultural experts says that gardening may reduce feelings of loneliness, Apartment Therapy reports. With the upcoming Chelsea Flower Show in London, which is themed around mental health and loneliness, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) spoke to the emotional benefits of gardening. "Being in the front of your garden gives you an excuse to meet people. We need to celebrate the front space," horticulturalist Jo Thompson told The Telegraph. "This space can be a social hub and help you connect with your neighbors."

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Guy Barker, the Chief Horticulturalist of the RHS, explained how gardeners who may be feeling symptoms of loneliness or depression can find support within the horticultural community. "It's a chance to meet new people, but nurturing plants can also make you less lonely and release you from your troubles for a little while. People can also join their local gardening club or allotment, as well as sharing plants and seeds with neighbors," said Guy Barker, the Chief Horticulturalist of the RHS.

Related: A New Study Says Gardening Has Significant Health Benefits

Throughout the entire flower show, there will be exhibits designed to promote mental health issues and encourage camaraderie among gardeners. Jo Thompson designed a "Friendship Garden," which is inspired by the apartments of cities in Southern Europe that have bright and colorful balconies filled with flowers. The close proximity of these spaces means you can easily converse with neighbors. "We passionately believe gardening is good for mental health and want to encourage people to join local gardening groups, garden with neighbors, or volunteer in gardens in order to boost their wellbeing and confidence," said Sue Biggs, RHS director general.

"Loneliness is a reality for all too many people. Some people can go days, weeks and months without talking to friends and family. People suffer alone, and this can lead to drug misuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, heart disease, strokes, and vascular dementia," said Professor Tim Kendall, the National Clinical Director for Mental Health at the NHS.

The Chelsea Flower Shower also intends to be the most environmentally-friendly ever; there will be a ban on single-use plastics, gardens will be judged on criteria such as how many pollinator-friendly species are included, and the floral design competition will not just be based on aesthetics, but whether or not the work is zero-waste. "I cannot remember a time when planet health was so important," said Sue Biggs, the Director General of the RHS. The Chelsea Flower Show will take place from May 19-23, 2020 in London.

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