South Africans are sometimes joined by their common love of gardens.

Patio potters, veggie farmers, dahlia aces, guerrilla gardeners, mink and manure dames and green-fingered folk in general are all invited to enjoy their private heavens this Sunday.

Garden Day is intended to bring us together to appreciate one of life’s simplest but most profound pleasures.

You can enjoy this day in your own back yard, at your neighbour’s urban farm, or even on a balcony with geraniums overlooking the city. It doesn’t matter what size your garden is. What’s important is to appreciate your very own version of a planted paradise and share it with friends and neighbours.

Most of the year we plant, water, weed and mulch – work, in other words.

Now, here’s a day where we can reap the rewards of all labour. Toss down that spade, invite family and friends around, kick back and appreciate the varied reasons why making a garden is so worthwhile.

Besides the pleasure of smelling the roses, science is proving that gardening has distinct health benefits. According to various studies, gardening lowers blood pressure and increases brain activity. It combats stress and anxiety more effectively than any other kind of leisure activity – including reading! It also alleviates angst and depression. For older folk it lowers the risk of dementia, stroke and heart attack.

Gardening can help us recuperate faster. Remarkably, it even seems to calm prisoners in jail.

People who garden tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and the same is true for kids who garden.

There are many activities that you can do on Garden Day, here are some ideas:

Instead of a book club, have plant club, ask guests to bring a rare and interesting plant. You then swop it with one of the other guests.

* Invite friends to a bring-n-braai, use herbs from the garden to flavour their meat.

* Host a tea party on the lawn.

* Read a book in your garden.

* Practise yoga or tai chi outside.

* Have a garden scavenger hunt.

* Visit a garden centre and enjoy the surroundings.

* Meditate or begin creating the perfect garden nook where you can do so.

* Host an outdoor dinner party where every dish has an ingredient from your garden in it.

* Make seed bombs with the kids.

* Set up an easel and paint.

* Play games in the garden. Croquet, boule, volleyball, chess or fly a kite

Gardening reconnects us to nature and awakens our senses. 

It creates in us feelings of peace and wellness and is scientifically proven to have positive effects on our health, both mentally and physically. 

According to Professor Paul Dolan, a UK economist and behavioural scientist, gardeners and florists are the happiest of all the professions... happier than people in more prestigious and better paid jobs.

For more ideas and Garden Day inspiration, visit www.gardenday.co.za

Twitter: @gardendaysa

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