Tips on how to turn your garden into a wellbeing sanctuary

A calm, peaceful garden with path

Create a calm and mindful space in your own back garden with muted colours and a design that appeals to the senses, such as Alexandra’s design for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. - Credit: Anna Skorupska

No matter what size your garden is, make it nourish your soul by creating a calming space that appeals to the senses with advice from garden and landscape designer Alexandra Noble. 

We know that spending time in our gardens is good for our mental health, so then what makes a garden a wellbeing garden?

Landscape and garden designer Alexandra Noble, who won the 2018 RHS People’s Choice Award at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for her health and wellbeing garden design, says engaging the senses is key and a tonic to a plugged-in lifestyle. 

“Often we are at a laptop for the whole day and looking at a screen is one dimensional so for the Hampton Court Palace design, we made sure we hit every sense in some way,” she says.

“Most accessible gardens take the senses into account.”
Creating a calm space is also key, so don’t overload your garden.

“Simplicity is the way forward in terms of making you feel calmer,” she says. "So no clashing colours and try to simplify the layout as much as possible.” 

Think about sounds you can introduce too, perhaps through a water feature. “Sound is so calming, it really is key,” Alexandra says, “and water is fantastic if you’ve got the space. There’s something about the sound it brings.” 

Plant choice goes a long way in shaping the mood of your garden. Fragrance, colours, shapes and movement all add something to how your garden feels. Even a plant’s functionality adds dimensions to your green space.  

Alexandra suggests working with plants that are herbal, medicinal, fragrant or edible, which she used in her Hampton Court Palace design.

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“It is such a wide and varied palette to work with. Each plant is useful in some way and scented plants add so much to the atmosphere,” she says. “The palette is a celebration of the plants that are good for us.”

Like most things, what nurtures your sense of wellbeing is an individual thing, and your garden should reflect this. Depending on how you find your inner calm, you might try creating a space to lay out a yoga mat or carving out an area where you can entertain friends, working with produce you’ve grown in your garden.  

Consider having different spots to sit at too – say a place that catches the sun for your morning coffee under a scented climbing rose, and then another area for entertaining that works with the evening light.

Do an edit of what you’ve got and lose anything that isn’t serving you or your garden. Afterwards, think about “what plants make your heart sing, and go maximal on those”.

“The life and soul of a garden is conveyed through plants,” says Alexandra. “So bring in some favoured ones that you find particularly inspiring.”