N.N. Master Gardeners

Local Triad Hears From
Sue Lindsey of Northern Neck Master Gardeners

Sue Lindsey of Northern Neck Master Gardeners

If you spot some pansies at Walmart, and find yourself thinking, “I can do something with those,” you may have been part of the captivated audience at the March meeting of the Essex County-Tappahannock Triad.

“And they can do something for you!” said Northern Neck Master Gardener Sue Lindsey, finishing the thought. Instead of focusing on how to garden, the speaker looked at why we garden, showing photos and painting verbal pictures of what gardens mean and what they do for us— whether we’re a gardener or merely an admirer.

Lindsey called her talk, “Growing More than Plants: Gardening for the Mind, Body and Soul.” But it wasn’t as up in the clouds as that may sound. She grounded her remarks by citing solid research and real-world results.

Hospitals, prisons, addiction recovery programs, and senior living facilities have all embraced the positive results of gardens. Even to the point that there are postgraduate courses in hospital garden design, and a Clemson University postgraduate degree program in horticultural therapy, Lindsey said.

She cited studies showing that patients fared better after surgery if they had a view of nature outside their rooms. Other studies showed the positive impacts of hospital gardens on patient health and stress reduction.

Prisons, including our local Haynesville correctional facility, have found that gardening programs lead to a significant reduction in recidivism. Lindsey noted that some graduates of a San Quentin gardening program used the skills they honed to land jobs in landscaping after their release.

Addiction programs use gardening to foster recovery. Lindsey said the slow and careful nurturing required for a garden aligns with the slow pace of addiction recovery, leading to less stress, time to think, as well as relaxed interaction with others.

The Northern Neck Master Gardeners have worked with local senior living facilities to set up horticultural therapy programs. Activities include potting plants for residents’ rooms, gardening in raised beds, going on field trips, and creating things with flowers. The sights, colors, and smells, Lindsey said, get people remembering and talking about their experiences.

She listed research showing that gardening can reduce stress, ease depression, ward off dementia, reduce risks of heart attack and stroke, lessen pain, improve attention, and reduce falls. So for your mental and physical health, you might decide to take some of those pansies home instead of passing them by.

For more on the how of gardening, consider attending the “Gardening in the Northern Neck Seminar” on Saturday, March 25, at the White Stone Church of the Nazarene. Details are on the Northern Neck Master Gardeners website, with mail-in registration form ($50).

Triad is a partnership among law enforcement, older residents, and community organizations. Its goal is to enhance the safety and quality of life of our older people. To learn about future meetings, send a request to [email protected] to be added to the email list. Meetings are usually the first Tuesday of each month from 10-11 a.m.

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