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Sense of occasion

Chelsea flower show wants visitors to feel good

Being outside in nature can lift a person’s mood

GARDENERS across the UK are coming to their senses – and it feels good. That’s the hope of the Royal Horticultural Society, which opens its Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Tuesday (23 May).

This year, in partnership with Radio 2, the RHS is launching five Feel Good Gardens, offering visitors an array of sights, smells, sounds, textures and tastes to enjoy.

To celebrate 50 years of the station, each garden is named after a regular presenter who worked with one or more designers to create a

space exploring a particular sense. The aim is twofold: to show people how plants can enrich their five senses, and to encourage them to feel happier and calmer about the world.

Excited about the opening of his Taste Garden, presenter Chris Evans says he has gone ‘gardening bonkers’ – and has even turned to TV cook Mary Berry for advice on which plants can best stimulate a person’s palate.

Jeremy Vine hopes his Texture Garden will highlight the contrast between soft, feathery grasses and sharp pine bushes, while Zoe Ball wants visitors to experience an electric feeling by the bass sounds coming up from beneath the ground in her Listening Garden. Zoe has spoken of how she enjoys getting out and about in the garden herself. She’s not the only one. Lots of people

find that spending time in nature can be soothing and help them to feel good.

Rachel Hampton, a horticulturalist who works with people suffering from mental health problems at the Mayfield Nurseries in Southampton, tells The War Cry that there are psychological benefits to stepping out of our daily routines and into green spaces.

‘Being outside in nature can lift a person’s mood,’ she says. ‘When people are planting seeds, watering flowers or even just sitting in a garden, listening to the birds and smelling the scents, their focus is on that particular task and the present moment. They’re not worrying about the

future or the past. They are immersing their senses in nature – and it’s good for

the soul.’

When we take the time to hang out in nature, we are doing far more than getting our daily fill of fresh air. We are also hanging out with our Creator, the one who made it all in the first place.

Knowing – by sight, scent, sound, touch and taste – that we are in the presence of the world’s designer can bring us comfort. It can remind us that when we feel overwhelmed, God is in control. And whatever situation we are facing, we are safe in his hands.

One Bible writer put it like this: ‘In his hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him … He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care’ (Psalm 95:4, 7 New International Version).

In all seasons, climates and surroundings, God wants us to know that we matter to him. The whole world is evidence of his love. It makes sense that we take the time to notice it.


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