Written by Wendy Ball
Posted in Wellbeing
I wonder if you knew that one of our greatest needs is ‘connection’. We are relational beings designed to connect holistically into our environment with each other and with our natural world. There is nothing new here, except to say we are way too isolated! New research has found that when we connect with nature we flourish as humans; our wellbeing is enriched and our souls nourished.
That’s probably not surprising. I often think about how rejuvenated I feel even when I’m outdoors for just a short while. Incorporating outdoor segues into our day brings life and health back to our bodies. Man-made constructs are not always regenerative and in this modern age of technology we need natural connections more than ever! The goal is to connect, and to do so regularly.
Here in Sydney we are blessed with a wonderful temperate climate with so many urban spaces, that are ready and accessible, awaiting exploration and discovery. Often when we commute to photo-worthy places there are crowds, disruptive noises and lots of frenetic activity. By contrast we can explore local habitats with an abundance of colour and serenity. Green vistas in parks and gardens, natural waterways, distant views of mountain hues or ocean panoramas create convenient and culminative aspects connecting each of us to our neighbourhoods.
The digital age is crowding into our time and our ability to slow, listen, observe and enjoy the natural scenery around us. Stopping to touch, smell or photograph interesting and beautiful plants precipitates engagement. We need intention and motivation to engage fully with our natural world.
Biophillia and wellbeing
Biophilia is defined as a love of nature, or friendship with living things by Saberwal in People, Parks and Wildlife: Towards Co-existence, (2001):
‘The theory or hypothesis of Biophilia posits the existence of a genetic mechanism linking human wellbeing, intrinsically, with some level of interaction with the natural world.’
Apparently, it’s part of the human psyche, deeply embedded in our DNA. There are links between our time connecting to natural elements and increases in our overall well-being and flourishing.
Recently, I have been contemplating how we consider the word ‘recreation’ as a luxury or an extravagance. Its root meaning is more akin to taking time to re-create ourselves as an essential rhythm in life, relaxing and enjoying the spaces around us. No need to feel guilty here! Stress reduction is a benefit of recreational time outdoors.
Beyond digital technology
During 2020, this global pandemic has precipitated (for most of us), more ‘screen time’ as we work remotely and engage in various forms of social and digital media. There is more data to suggest a direct correlation between rising levels of anxiety and depression and time spent on social media. When boundaries between workspace and home comfort are blurred, so too our ability to differentiate healthy habits for engagement, rest and rejuvenation.
One way to arrest or break habits of too much technology is to bring our outdoors inside. Indoor plants, small herbariums, earthy elements and botanical or landscape pictures help increase our wellbeing. Artistic indoor water features create sounds that soothe, creating calm environments often cluttered with relentless noise. The interior aesthetic appeals partly because it elicits warmth and peace thereby feeding our biophilic souls.
Engaging our senses and experiencing nature at home is always rejuvenating. Each season is an opportunity for creative engagement and growth. There is something grounding when we care for a plant through the seasons. When we prune, feed, water and then watch a plant grow, we become more fully human and connected to the earth.
Outdoor space is not a limitation to this engagement. Succulents on balconies or windowsills can be nurtured and bring as much delight as an expansive outdoor garden. Small vertical or hydroponic vegetable gardens are another way to stimulate creative interest often connected to the culinary delights and skills of the owner. Plant selections nestled inside pet enclosures for lizards, stick insects or exotic hobbies always create conversation piece and engagement focus for visitors.
So it’s time to make some important decisions concerning your own connections with nature. The possibilities are endless as nature continues to evolve and recreate all around us. Remember, at the end of the day it’s fully about your choices, your connections and your emotional engagement. You’ll never regret prioritising this as a life rhythm.
A word from our clients
"Wendy’s garden design has completely changed our lives. She has transformed our garden into an area of peace and relaxation. We now spend hours being outside enjoying the views she has created and also watching the wildlife that now regularly visit. The garden is beautiful whilst being low maintenance and gardening is also now a pleasure rather than a chore."
– Rolly & Kes, Epping North
"Wendy is creative, thorough and really takes the time to understand the client’s needs and is able to transform their ideas into practical and well-suited garden designs. I never hesitate to recommend Wendy’s services to clients. From a contractor’s point of view, I really love working on anything designed by Wendy! Her designs are well thought out, practical, interesting, and achievable! Easy to read, easy to interpret, easy to bring to life!"
– Dan, DSE Landscapes Pty Ltd
“We are delighted to recommend Embrace Landscape Design. Our block presented some particular difficulties, being steeply sloping and rocky. Wendy developed a design that complimented the natural bush setting with attractive planting and architectural elements. Her design worked within our budget and gave us a garden that has continued to grow in beauty since it was established. We have been complimented on its design many times and it has flourished through all weather conditions. Wendy’s advice throughout the process of building our garden was invaluable.”
– Scott & Suzanne Stanton, Menai
"I have had the opportunity to construct four landscape projects designed by Wendy Ball; two residential and two in a commercial setting. They included a combination of soft planting and hard landscape elements such as paved spaces, pergolas and arbours, large shade structures, pathways, water features and private reflective spaces. Wendy‘s creative capacity transformed dull spaces into something very special. As a builder, it was a pleasure to work with a landscape designer who had a pragmatic and flexible approach to resolving the inevitable challenges that arise during construction."
– Peter Cipollone, Builder
"We could not rate Wendy highly enough for her dedication and talent. She has gone above and beyond in designing our new front and backyard and nailed the brief."
– Daniel & Catherine, Illawong