Japanese Gardens Benefit the Mind, Heart Rate & Mood
A recent study* that looked at short term changes in the mood and heart rate of elderly individuals exposed to different type of landscaped gardens, concluded that the heart rate decreased and mood was elevated more in Japanese style gardens than herb gardens or simple landscaped gardens with a single tree.
The tradition of garden design in Japan goes back over 2,000 years. Japan has a wide range of interesting and beautiful flora and Japanese garden design is unique and widely recreated the world over. The native religion of Japan Shinto is a religion based on the spirit and is also associated with nature and the natural environment. Whilst the Japanese Emperors created gardens for aesthetic pleasure, the Buddhists regarded them as a place of peace and tranquillity.
The Japanese garden design is often based on larger landscapes but in miniature. For example, large rocks represent mountains and pools represent lakes.
So how can you create something similar at home for your loved one to enjoy and relax in?
Garden Centres are full of different types of plants, ferns, and trees that can help create a wonderful Japanese garden in your own home, in particular, the many colourful varieties of Acer or even a Cloud tree, if your budget will allow. Spring and Autumn are the times in the Japanese garden when they are often at their best. From the beautiful Cherry blossoms and purple flowing Wisteria native to Japan to the impressive Autumn colour provided by Acers or Maple trees.
Many examples of Japanese gardens feature gravel or sand in favour of grass and this can mean a fairly low maintenance garden environment for the older person (no mowing or much weeding to do). However in order that the garden can be enjoyed to the full by all, it is vital to make sure that any paths or walkways in the garden can be accessed easily. One idea may be to put in some railings to hold on to, perhaps made to resemble a bridge, to make your garden look even more authentic. Creating the paths from slabs or tarmac rather than the traditionally favoured gravel or sand will make it easier to walk on and easier to wheelchair access. Seating areas should also be considered when planning the garden, so visitors can sit and enjoy the garden from within.
Another key feature of a Japanese garden is water. Whilst a large Koi pond may look beautiful, they are a lot of work. However, small water features can be easily purchased and some are solar powered to produce water movement without the need for electricity. A water feature does not have to be large to emit its magic. The sound of water slowly trickling and perhaps a bamboo wind chime in the trees can have a wonderful calming effect, when sitting out in the garden. Another nice touch is to place solar lights to the base of any rocks or statues you have positioned in the planting, to allow you to appreciate the magic of a Japanese garden on a warm summer night. Lanterns are often used in traditional gardens. The addition of some bamboo can also provide excellent screening, favoured in Japanese garden design and giving acoustic pleasure as the wind passes through its leaves. But be careful which variety you buy and where you plant it as its roots can work their way through anything, so perhaps contain it in a pot if you are concerned about it spreading everywhere. The ideas are endless and a Japanese garden from the planning, design, creating and enjoyment it can give can be a worthwhile activity for all involved.
*(Goto S et al 2013)
Otus live in care can find a Live in carer who can help you in your garden as well around the home. Having a live in Carer also provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones that you are being cared for on a one to one basis, by someone who shares your interests and pastimes.
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