Alexandra Noble, designer of the RHS Health & Wellbeing Garden at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, celebrates British Flower Week with some of her top choices of flowers that can boost mood and settle the mind.
Alexandra’s garden is one of five in the brand new RHS Lifestyle Gardens category and her garden focusses specifically on creating an oasis of calm for the visitor, with circular paths that promote meditation flanked with aromatic herbs which fill the air with calming scent.
Flowers, gardens and green spaces are increasingly being cited as helping make people happy. Simply the sight of flowers has been proven to lift the spirit but there are some flowers that will literally aid sleep, improve anxious thought patterns and lift mood.
Here are her top five choices of British flowers that help health and wellbeing.
Yarrow – Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
Yarrow works wonderfully in both the garden and in flower arrangements. It stands well and its flat heads are a great contrast to other flower shapes. As the flowers age they blush pink around the edges and their solidity works particularly well with the billowy fronds of fennel or zingy clouds of Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle). Yarrow is used as a sedative for anxiety and helps relieve high blood pressure.
Chives – Allium tuberosum
Chives look great planted along the edges of a border and their fluffy pom-pom heads making a great foil for other plants in arrangements. They also taste great and make a wonderful and extremely pretty garnish.
Chives can aid sleep and memory retention and also help with depression by blocking a chemical that inhibits the production of the ‘happy’ hormones, serotonin and dopamine.
From Princesses to paupers, the Peony is one of Britain’s most loved blooms. Beautifully mesmerising to behold it also helps soothe our minds and heal our bodies with many parts of the plant having calming, cooling and sedating properties. The white peony is popular in Chinese medicine for easing anxiety and depression and is one of Chinese medicine’s oldest remedies.
This gentle and delicate flower is perfect for wildflower or ‘hedgerow’ style arrangements. It’s used for fighting anxiety and depression and acts as a mild sedative which calms nerves and reduces anxiety. Vapours from the flowers travel to the olfactory part of the brain which turns off tension and reduces the body’s stress response.
The national flower, the rose is a classic in any arrangement, whether it’s the plump, sumptuous heads of a cabbage rose, the spray of multi-stem varieties or as the classic single stem, they are without doubt one of the favourites. It is not just their beauty that earns them a place in this list though as the scent of a rose is uplifting and has been proven to alleviate depression and anxiety.