Well Manitobans, did you hear about our double records for November 9th? Last year we was the warmest on record and this year the coldest... with nearly 40 C difference between this year and last! That is pretty incredible.
Over the last few weeks we have been including tips in our newsletter on how to prepare the garden for winter; but what about helping the gardener make this transition! We regularly hear from people who tell us about their experience of seasonal affective mood changes as winter comes on, and who may be looking for ways to incorporate plants into their strategy for coping with this. And in fact there is lots of science around how plants and planting activities can help with seasonal depression. Check out these easy ways to help improve winter mood, using plant focused strategies:
Try growing some of the "living aromatherapy" plants, such as Cuban Oregano or Broad Leaf Thyme. These are herbs that have uplifting aromas and the ability to thrive indoors with out much effort. A gentle rub of the leaves brings on an easy smile, made even brighter by the knowledge that your little plants are cozy and green indoors as the windchill sets records outdoors. Other great aromatherapy plants include scented geraniums, night scented jasmine, allspice, tea tree, and rosemary.
Incorporate a simple full spectrum light into your indoor space.
Not only does a grow light open up the possibilities for what you can cultivate indoors, there is a lot of evidence around the benefits of full spectrum lighting as an antidote to seasonal affective disorder. The typical prescription is to spend 30 - 60 minutes next to the full spectrum light daily; if this time commitment is a challenge another recommended strategy is to change out the bulbs in regular fixtures with full spectrum CFL's (4 x 13w full spectrum CFL bulbs cost around $20). You can identify full spectrum lights by looking for the number "6400K" on the package.
Pot up some of the houseplants from the famous NASA study on plants that improve indoor air quality. These are all classic houseplants, such as aloe, snake plants, philodendron, asparagus fern and spider plants. Not only do they create oxygen and help keep us connected to a little bit of nature, but these plants actually remove toxic VOC's from the air.
Engage in a little plant-focused mindfulness.Notice how plants change and respond to the seasons, including when growing indoors. Take a few moments each day to observe your plants, their colour, texture... their beauty and their wrinkles. Notice how you interact with plants, your inclinations to water or not. Notice what what you love about them, where you got them, the conversations you have had about them, their stories. Allow all of your impressions to be present, here and now, and free from judgement.
Get out to a plant-y space and do something fun. At Sage we have made a specific effort to create accessible opportunities for people to do neat things in the greenhouse during fall and winter... and we are proud that someone recently commented on the vibrance of the "community" that can be found at Sage during activities such as Garden Club and our crafting events. You are invited!
What to learn more about the wellness benefits of plants? Listen in to Dave and Maggie on the up coming Grow Guide podcast; the "plants & wellness" episode goes live on Tuesday, and takes a deeper look at many ways plants support well being, with a focus on seasonal affective disorder.
Just a note that seasonal affective disorder can include serious depression, in which case is it important to talk to a medical professional for help.
Wishing everyone the best for winter!