Healing gardens

I have been working on a planting design for a small courtyard area which is part of an obstetrician/gynaecologist’s consulting rooms, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do some research into colours and their effects on health. While I would certainly go along with the notion that colour can influence mood, it seems that colour therapy is still definitely in the alternative medicine camp, with no definitive scientifically accepted proof that colour can affect health. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that my selecting a planting scheme with half an eye on the possible benefits that the colours could have would actually do any harm!

In the end, because the courtyard is very shaded, the colour scheme was driven by those plants that would survive in shade, which tend to be the softer, more muted shades. The final scheme relies on foliage rather than colour for impact, with ferns, heucheras and variegated hostas set off against the white walls of the courtyard. What colour there is comes from pink and purple Impatiens in summer and the deep red flower buds of Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ through the winter. According to one colour therapy source, red is the colour of vitality, green can act as a general tonic, promoting relaxation, and violet creates feelings of self-worth. All good stuff, even if it is just a theory! Planting is scheduled for later this year.

On a related note, I was pointed towards the Therapeutic Landscapes Network site, a wonderful source of information on the healing benefits of horticulture. Will definitely be keeping an eye on this one!

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