By: Shana N. Schneider
What was that pleasant scent in the breeze? I could smell them before I could see them. The rose garden appeared in front of me as I made it to the top of the path in the Hersey Gardens. All the colors of the rainbow and more – yellow, red, magenta, lavender, peach, white, and white trimmed with pink. When I stopped to put my nose closer to each one, I was surprised to discover that they all have their own unique smell, too. I know this may not be mind blowing for some people, but as a city dweller and an office hermit for decades now, this was a literal reminder of the importance of stopping and smelling the roses.
I lived in Hershey, Pennsylvania for several years, but I don’t recall ever visiting the Hershey Gardens. On our recent vacation which included a visit to Hershey, we were given two complimentary tickets to the Hershey Gardens and decided to actually use them. I’m so glad we did.
Life is jam-packed with constant stimulation and draws on our time that often lead to stress and sickness. Walking through the Hershey Gardens I felt a peace and calmness that I hadn’t realized was there to experience. I walked away having my eyes opened to several ways gardens can be integral to our health and wellbeing and actually gave me something to look forward to once my vacation ended.
Gardens can move you.
To take in the full experience of this 23-acre botanical garden and arboretum, you need walk around. I’m not encouraging you to do a run through the garden, but movement, including a stroll, is good for our bodies. Accumulated activity and simply moving our bodies is what combats the sedentary lifestyle to which many of us are prone. In gardens, before you know it, you’ve knelt down or lifted up on your tippy toes to get a better look at the beautiful flowers or leaves on trees that beckon you.
Gardens can get you to slow down.
Ever since email became ubiquitous and having a smart phone made us and information available 24-7, it is hard to focus or to simply slow down. The first time I spotted a cute little rabbit statue among the grasses, I definitely decreased my pace and started looking for these slightly hidden or seemingly mischievously placed decorative elements that appeared in certain beds. The prize find for slowing down was spotting these darkly colored butterflies landing on a bush with light purple flowers and getting to see them so close-up. Slowing down and unplugging even for a few minutes can help us reset, recharge and let go of stress that builds up.
Gardens can wake up all your senses.
Smelling the flowers as I passed by them, hearing the water trickle over the rocks, touching the delicate petals or the spiky leaves, seeing the play of color in the beds and as the sunlight changed. A garden will engage all your senses. Even taste! Hershey Gardens included a culinary herb garden with plants like thyme and sage. I did try one of that tasted just like licorice. Engaging and sharpening our senses is important at any age. They’re the conduit for your brain to get the information it needs to help us navigate everyday life.
While I’m clearly not a garden guru and probably don’t have the patience just yet to cultivate a garden of my own, the Hershey Gardens showed me how what kind of health benefits I can find by spending some time in a garden. Now, I’m making a list of the gardens in my local area to go and visit!
Shana N. Schneider is the founder of ZoeFit and the FitStyle Your Life approach. She is passionate about providing tools and sharing tips to help anyone who struggles to find time for fitness. Learn more at www.zoefit.com.