We’re all guilty of leaving our house and our garden alone, but what if we never got around to doing so?
We’re often told to leave our gardens alone, or at least keep them to ourselves, because they’re “unruly” or “creepy”.
But as a gardener, do you really want to leave your garden alone?
A study from Cornell University suggests it’s not that simple.
The researchers found that a gardening environment with no visitors and no natural features is less likely to be a place where “social and psychological well-being” is maximised.
Instead, the research suggests that the more likely you are to be “reluctant to be social” and “disinterested in other people’s opinions” when you’re not in your garden, the more you are likely to do so.
If you’re like us, it’s a difficult balancing act.
I’m not a social butterfly and I don’t enjoy being around others.
I find myself looking at the garden in awe, but I’m also worried about how I’m going to feel in a few hours.
The study found that, in the absence of natural features, the gardens of people with a “disinterest in others’ opinions” were less likely than those of people without a “interest in other’s opinions”.
This could mean that your neighbours, your neighbours’ neighbours, are less likely to want to interact with you.
That could be because of a lack of familiarity with your garden or because you’re just a bit more isolated than others.
The bottom line is that the garden needs to be safe.
The more people you have, the better.
But for a lot of us, the garden is a place we’ve lived for decades and that time has passed.
We don’t want to move on, but we know that, if we move on now, it’ll be because we’re not “the right fit”.
“In this context, a garden should be considered a public space, where people can come and spend time with other people, and where people’s behaviour is likely to reflect on their behaviour and on the place they’re living in,” the researchers write.
And as with any public space that’s in a “public interest”, they advise that people should always be mindful of “the impact of the environment on people’s well-beings and well-Being”.
They also advise: “It is important that people are aware of the potential for their behaviour to impact on the environment and be respectful of the views of other people in the garden.”
In other words, if you’re feeling angry at a neighbour or a neighbour’s neighbour, don’t blame the garden, and if you feel lonely and you don’t know where to go, don’s take a look at your local park and the nearby river.
It’s a good place to be.
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