Nursery Notes: Plants provide wide range of health benefits

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Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.

Christmas approaches. Snow falls, yet it is still warm enough for it to melt. Colourful bunches of orange berries on the small euonymus tree outside my office window break through the bleakness of this day. The dusting of snow accents the graceful branching of the threadleaf cypress across the parking lot. Most of the ordering and production planning has been completed. There are a few loose ends around the nursery but not many. I would like to update my master list of all the plant inventory for next spring — there are upwards of 900 different cultivated varieties to keep straight now.

As I begin to write in my office a new task becomes apparent. I receive a dozen horticultural magazines. They come free every month or two in the mail. Anything that has showed up from the beginning of March to the end of August has been piled onto the bookshelf unopened, along with some other mail. Apparently, I didn’t have time to read. There will be good information on new plants, new bugs and new trends in colour, and state of the industry-type articles. Roughly half are of Canadian origin and the other half are American. In any case, lots to catch up on over the winter break.

I had thought to myself the other day that this autumn would have been a great year to plant pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage and kale, dusty miller, asters and fall mums around the yard or at least in some colourful pots by the front door. It is hard to predict the weather but El Niños seem to be good years to enjoy late planting and even later snowfalls.

Back to the magazine articles. I’d like to share a few bits of information regarding the plants around your home or office. A recent article in Nursery Management (November 2012) by Charlie Hall, entitled “Shout It Loud”, states plants enhance people’s social, physical, psychological, cognitive, spiritual and environmental well-being. Aside from the fact that houseplants, flowers, flowering shrubs and ornamental trees help beautify in and around your home and workplace, they also help draw people into shopping districts, reduce shoppers’ stress while they are there, enhance overall curb appeal, boost apartment and commercial building occupancy rates, increase tourism revenue, create local jobs and increase property values. Plant life also helps clean and purify the air, attracts wildlife, reduces noise pollution, mitigates soil erosion and storm water runoff, minimizes wind damage and reduces overall energy usage. Quite the list!

While all these economic and environmental benefits may not come as a surprise to you, there is a whole plethora of health and well-being benefits that might. Interestingly enough, peer reviewed research has documented a person’s ability to concentrate in their work environment is enhanced by the presence of plants and flowers. Children learn faster and are less distracted in flower and plant filled environs. Flowers are documented to reduce stress levels, hypertension and ease the effects of attention deficit disorder. It has been documented that people have difficulty noticing flowers or plants, much less connecting them to tangible benefits, as they blend into the background of life. This phenomenon is called plant blindness. So, this holiday season perhaps you will look at your Christmas trees and poinsettias a little differently.

Have a great holiday season and a very merry Christmas, from all of us here at the nursery — Evan, Wendy, Brynn and Siobhan.

Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.