Enjoying Your Garden In Fall Is The Perfect Antidote To The Winter Blues

It’s that time of year that so many of us dread. The fall. A time when the sun is chased away and the grey skies roll in. It’s a time when the leaves turn from lush green to sickly yellow and then to rusty brown before turning to squishy mulch on the ground. It’s the time when  the air brings a chill, the nights grow oppressively long and our mood seems to grow darker and bleaker along with the weather. The fall is a difficult time for a lot of people. Our limbs become leaden, the wail of the alarm clock becomes unbearably deafening and the prospect of crawling out of our comfy warm beds grows more monstrous with every passing day and the coming prospect of winter brings with it a mounting sense of dread. If it’s all you can do to get out of bed, much less get out of the house then you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Here we’ll talk about why SAD is far too important to be dismissed as ‘just a case of the winter blues’, and the ways in which your old friend the garden can help you to chase those blues away.
The truth about SAD

Before we get into the ways in which your garden can help mitigate the effects of SAD it’s important to understand the nature of this particular beast. SAD is (or at least stems from) our hibernation instinct. We find ourselves wanting to sleep more and load up on stodgy foods that are high in fat and refined carbohydrates. This is a perfectly natural human instinct that we’ve carried over from the times when we didn’t know where our next meal would come from and we needed to hide away from predators. Unfortunately, this is not particularly conducive to modern living. Our access to fattening foods is far greater than ever before and this results in an inevitable cycle of unhealthy eating, avoidance of exercise and self-recrimination. This damages our self-image which only exacerbates the problem, making us insulate ourselves from the outside world and further feeding the cycle.


How your garden can help you, and how you can help your garden

It’s unfortunate how readily some people abandon their garden in those last vestiges of summer, writing it off until next spring, since your garden can be a wonderful refuge from the effects of SAD. It’s been proven that access to plants, trees and nature can help to improve mood, concentration and even memory. Spending a little time in your garden can help to alleviate the winter blues and start your day off positively.

This can, however, be rendered less pleasant in your current setup. If your garden has become a dull mess of browns, greys and blacks it’s time to liven things up with a splash of color and even making some renovations that will boost your enjoyment of the garden now and all year round.

Installing some garden decking will help you to enjoy spending time in the garden without stepping into the squelchier elements that may be littering the ground at this time of year. Likewise you can furnish your garden with some items that may alleviate the cold and make your garden a more enjoyable space to spend time in the colder, wetter months. A firepit can create an attractive and warming centerpiece all year round while a log cabin can help to keep the elements at bay without impinging on your enjoyment of the open air and surrounding plants.

Speaking of plants, if your garden is experiencing a sorry lack of color and vibrancy, it might be time to perk things up with some beautiful yet hardy perennials that will bring bursts of color long into the winter.

Reliable favorites include:

  • Japanese anemones
  • Goldenrod
  • Asters
  • Sempervivum  

Any of these will help to brighten up a drab corner and make your garden a more cheerful and uplifting place to be even when the weather is against you.

Sow the seeds of summer

Let’s not forget that the act of gardening itself has value, and has been proven to have a whole host of mental health benefits from helping to manage anger and stress to helping to promote relaxation. With this in mind, the fall is also the perfect time to get your garden ready for next summer. By planting any of these readily available bulbs in the fall you’ll have a beautifully colorful burst to look forward to in the sunnier months:

  • Tulips
  • Irises
  • Daffodils
  • Alliums
  • Crocuses
  • Lilies
  • Crocosmia

Before you know it, your garden will be your refuge from the world’s problems, and you’ll emerge from it feeling rested, happy and ready for the challenges of the day.

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