Bloom 2021: Bloom at Home series highlight talk

Green Leaf, courtesy of Pixabay

Geneva Pattison

Much like last year, this year’s Bloom Festival saw us celebrating from the comfort of our own gardens and green spaces. Over the June bank holiday weekend, many of us set out to add a little pizzazz to our plants with the help of the online Bloom at Home talks.

Being around greenery and immersing ourselves in nature as much as possible, has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic. One of the brilliant talks from Bloom, discusses just how much gardening can improve our mental and physical wellbeing. Miriam O’ Callaghan was joined by actress and owner of Beo Wellness, Aoibhín Garrihy and the Holistic Gardener and horticultural expert, Fiann Ó Nualláin.

Aoibhín spoke about what it was like moving into a new home at the beginning of the pandemic, focussing on the importance of having that outdoor space during 2km and 5km lockdowns.

“With a new build, you know the garden is something you leave on the back burner for a while, I’ll get to that eventually, just to create a livable indoor space to begin with – but actually, we really focussed on the garden.”

“We created a sanctuary for ourselves that I’m just so glad that we now have. As I said, I wasn’t into gardening, but turned to it when I needed to and mother earth and nature became therapy for us all.”

Aoibhín discussed the psychological merits of outdoor activity and connecting with nature. When she could no longer swim in the sea or go on long hikes, she found herself sometimes just putting her hand on a tree and immediately feeling grounded. She mentioned that previously, she would have thought that anything like tree hugging was a bit “hippy dippy” for her, but that all changed as soon as she actually tried it, she felt calm and alive.

Garden greenery, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fiann explains the science behind this. ” When you actually touch a tree, there’s a couple of things that happen, first of all, most trees emit volatile oils that are very similar to aromatherapy. They calm the gaba receptors in the brain, so they’re medicating us towards a more peaceful sense of felt presence. The other thing is when you hug a tree, it’s the opposite of static electricity, it pulls the positive ions, which are really the nasty ions, out of our body and we get a flood of this thing called catalase which mops up all the free radical damage. So you’re actually being restored, you go back to factory settings when you hug a tree. It may look hippy dippy, but there’s a real benefit to getting out there and getting hands on with nature.”

Fiann continued, saying: “As humans, we talk a lot about rewilding or bringing a certain bear back to a mountain range or bringing a certain plant species back to a meadow, but I think humans need to be rewilded. We need to make our connection back with nature and that’s what happened in the pandemic.”

Miriam spoke to Fiann about his previous show gardens in Bloom and the fact that he has been advocating for people to get themselves back to nature for many years, even in the smallest of ways and how important it is now post lockdown.

He explains to her that, the main reason for his belief in the power of gardening, comes from the ability of the act itself to melt time away. “You are distracting yourself away from your woes and your worries, from your diagnosis, from paying the bills, from the stress of rolling news of what’s happening and from uncertainty. Because you’re sure when your plant this bulb – not 100% sure it’ll flower – but there’s more certainty when you’re gardening … there’s a sense of taking control in the garden, there’s creative expression happening which fills you full of positive endorphins.”

Fiann goes on to connect this point to the simple fact that being outdoors, in the sun allows you to absorb vitamin D through the skin, vitamin D being the precursor for serotonin. An important thing to note during this pandemic, considering scientists have found that those with lower vitamin D levels, have worse outcomes if they catch covid.

The interview is a great watch and very interesting, even if you’re not that big into gardening or the idea of flowers make you cringe, there’s a lot going on in the conversation. There is very real science behind our necessary connection to nature and considering we’re not yet out of the woods with Covid-19, maybe a new green hobby might be in order? If you find yourself looking for something to have a watch next week, I highly recommend this informative and comforting talk.

To watch the interview or to see other highlights from the Bloom 2021 Festival, visit the link below.

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