Reflections on nature

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Due to recent events, I have found myself with copious time to explore the endless corners of the internet. So far, I’ve discovered an underground house in Las Vegas, read several scientific journal articles linking nature experiences and well-being, and learned how to put that ugly stub of celery to good use. I promise I’m not just killing time on the web; these seemingly random topics really do have a common theme.

It all started when I stumbled across an article about an unusual underground bunker in Las Vegas. Built to survive a nuclear fallout, this bunker is complete with a pool, tiki bar, putting green, imitation night sky, and, most importantly, fake nature scenes complete with built-in artificial trees. I can understand why the designer incorporated images of nature, no matter how cheesy, into this unusual feat of subterranean architecture. If I had to live in a bunker, I would welcome any semblance of the outdoors to stave off feelings of claustrophobia. Even now, socially distanced and forced to telework, I’m relying on my houseplants to prevent cabin fever from setting in.

Surrounding ourselves with nature is important, whether it is by building an underground bunker or (for those of us with a smaller budget) decorating our homes with potted plants. In fact, there are numerous scientific papers exploring the impacts that nature has on the human psyche. In this study on the benefits of forest bathing, participants who viewed nature for as little as 14 minutes had lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol, lower pulse rates, and lower blood pressure than participants who were exposed to city environments. There is also evidence that people living in neighborhoods with access to parks, gardens, or views of nature from their home report less stress than those without access to green spaces. No wonder we look for ways to surround ourselves with nature: It makes us feel good.

Considering this, I suggest doing what you can to expose yourself to nature during these trying times. Visiting a park or going on a camping trip might not be attainable right now, but there are small things you can do while spending more time at home. The Garden has some great advice for re-growing veggies from kitchen scraps, like the aforementioned stub of celery, or using toilet paper tubes to plant seedlings. Maybe you have reached your limit of potted plants? No worries! Take a look at this video to learn about the leaves you can see outside your window. Whatever it is, I hope you find a way to integrate nature into your daily life. Hope to see you at the Garden soon!


About the Author

Mary Helen Reuter is Curator of Education & Visitor Experience at Naples Botanical Garden. She was raised in the Rose Capital of America where her love for gardens originally blossomed. She is a board member of the Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge and she enjoys spending her time adventuring in the swamps of Southwest Florida.

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