The Healing Power of Scent

The Healing Power of Scent

West of Scotland garden designers Rachel Bailey and Nicola Sweeney are creating a long border exhibit for the Royal Horticultural Society, Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire from 05 to 09 June 2019, see https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chatsworth-flower-show/news/2019/Long-Borders-at-Chatsworth

The border highlights the importance of scent in emotional well-being. Smell directly influences our emotional responses, memories and physiology, driving our behaviour at an instinctive and subconscious level. Inhalation of plant extracts is known to have a positive effect on brain activity. Rose oil vapour in particular is thought to have anti-depressive, calming and uplifting properties, helping to reduce fatigue, stress and exhaustion.

Central to this border is the iconic rose. A strongly scented variety is planted in a pattern resembling a brain-wave. An abstract metal brain-wave sculpture symbolises the direct affect of scent on our brains and subsequently how we feel. Supporting the rose are plants that stimulate other senses such as touch (foliage texture, especially grasses), sight (colour and aesthetics) and sound (rustling foliage and pollinators attracted to the flowers). These stimuli work together to create a positive interaction with plants and nature.

The rose is just one of many scented plants that can be incorporated into our gardens. In addition to the enjoyment such fragrance brings is the potential to harness the power of smell to improve our emotional well-being.

The exhibit was inspired by a personal experience (Rachel Bailey). She was affected by depression and found that scented plants in her garden and in nature would bring her immediately into the present and lift her mood.

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