Healthywomen who participated in gardening or art-making sessions showed measurableimprovements in mood and a reduction in depressive symptoms.
Gardening issuspected to offer therapeutic benefits. For instance, a form of treatmentcalled horticultural therapy uses therapist-guided gardening activities andindividual treatment plants to improve mental health. Researchers wanted toextend the research on the physical and mental health benefits of gardeningwith a controlled experiment comparing a gardening intervention to anothertherapeutic activity — art-making. The researchers wanted to explore whetherthe two types of interventions would offer distinct psychological benefits.
A sample ofhealthy women in their early thirties was randomly assigned to one of twointerventions. In total, 17 participants took part in an art intervention and15 participants followed an indoor gardening intervention. Both interventionswere group-based and included 8 one-hour sessions spread out over four weeks.The art sessions were led by two professional artists, and the gardeningsessions were led by a master’s level horticulturist who was trained intherapeutic horticulture.
The overallfindings suggested that the interventions offered similar mental healthbenefits. Participants in both the art and gardening groups showedreductions in mood disturbances, perceived stress, and depression symptomsfollowing the interventions. There was some evidence that the gardening groupexperienced slightly stronger benefits.