Here are twelve ways to tap into all the senses with the help of plants and the garden in order to help improve our home workspaces. Greenery, growing, light and birdsong will create a calmer, more natural and hopefully happier home working environment.
As the coronavirus lockdown guidelines mean we can’t spend lengthy periods of time outdoors at present, it is even more important to create a green area in our homes and for our workspaces. Luckily, there are still plenty of benefits from just looking at green spaces and nature.
Create a picturesque view
Wildside Nursery Garden © Jason Ingram
Treat your window as a picture frame and consider the view you have to work with. For those of us living in cities with only concrete to look out on, use your windowsill as a stage for displaying a variety of plants and greenery. Hanging plants are also handy if you lack a pleasant view, just don’t overcrowd them and block out the natural light! For lucky people with views of gardens, parks or other natural spaces, keep your windowsill minimal and tidy – like a complementary frame to the outside space. Here’s a list of nurseries and plant shops still doing mail order.
Get your greens
Photo: Andrew Montgomery
Make sure your desk or work area has some greenery on it. Whether that is a vase of fresh flowers or a tray of potted plants, it will make your workspace look more appealing and may even boost productivity. The best plants for your desk are undoubtedly succulents; cacti and Aloe vera are low maintenance as they only need watering every couple of weeks or so. African spear (Sansevieria cylindrica) is another low maintenance plant that is very forgiving if you forget to water it. For a larger statement plant, the Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) works well as it can handle erratic watering and is a good air purifier too. Read our columnist Jane Perrone on house plants here.
It has become quieter since the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown began. Birdsong seems louder and noise pollution levels have dropped. Now could be a good opportunity to tune into the natural sounds we’ve not been able to acknowledge previously.
Listen to birdsong
© VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Birdsong is a positive sound that can be therapeutic to many of us. If you don’t have one already, install a bird feeder and/ or bird table to attract more to your garden or outdoor space. Birds like a quiet, open space when feeding so for those without a garden it may be tricky, but a quiet windowsill or balcony could work. You could also plant seed-bearing or berry-producing plants that will provide food to the birds without the cost of a feeder or table.
Install a water feature
© Andrea Jones
The sound of a rushing stream or a lapping tide is soothing and reminiscent of holidays and relaxation. It may not seem an appropriate sound to have whilst working, but for those in high-pressured jobs or working to a deadline, it may help to ease the tension. And water features don’t have to be loud and garish. For those not wanting a water fountain, the stillness of a small water bowl may do the trick and it will also add space to a garden, reflecting light and the surrounding plants. Here’s our piece on how to make water work in your garden.
Attract the bees
Add to your senses with the buzzing, humming sound of bees. These extra workmates know a thing or two about work ethic! Pretty Foxgloves (Digitalis), scented lavender (Lavandula) and edible chives (Allium Schoenoprasum) are all popular with the bees. Read more about plants that attract the bees here.
Use sound-proofing plants to block out annoying sounds
If you’re in a city and still experiencing distracting urban noises, planting sound-proof plants may help. Trees and hedges are ideal for deflecting noise, but low-growing plants, trellises and plants in containers can help too. The best type of plants for soundproofing are ones with thick, oval-shaped leaves. Arrange your plant barrier as near to the sound source as possible and vary the heights of the plants to help trap the sound.
Take advantage of botanical scents; they can help to lift your mood, boost your productivity and even improve your memory. And at the end of the workday, they can help you relax and unwind.
Place a vase of scented flowers by your desk
Tulipa ‘Mrs Harold I Pratt’ (1926), T. ‘Lord Stanley’ (1880), T. ‘Prince of Wales’ (1863),
T. ‘Mahogany King’ (1905) and T. ‘La Joyeuse’ (1863) © Andrew Montgomery
For a motivated, focused day at your desk, fill a small vase with sprigs of rosemary, jasmine and/ or lavender. To destress after a long day of work, breathe in the scent of damask rose (Rosa x damascena) and/ or Valerian (Valeriana officinalis).
Mow the lawn
Wardington Manor’s Lawn © Claire Takacs
Keep your lawn trim and tidy and breathe in the pleasant scent of freshly cut grass. Hay fever sufferers may want to steer clear of this though!
Treat yourself to a healthy lunch break and keep body and soul together with plenty of fresh, nourishing fruit, vegetables and herbs straight from the garden.
Plant fresh fruit and veg
© Andrew Montgomery
Baby carrots, baby salad leaves, radishes, beans, tomatoes and strawberries are all easy and relatively quick to grow. It’s also a great activity to do with little ones. If you’re short of space, try growing fruit & vegetables in pots. You’ll have fresh salads and sweet treats in no time.
Brew your own herbal teas
Switch out a caffeinated cuppa for a soothing, restorative herbal tea. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), nettle (Urtica dioica) and sage (Salvia officinalis) may well already be in your garden, if not, a pot or fresh bundle will be easy to source at the supermarket which you can then plant out. Then simply cut off a few sprigs and splash over with hot water.
Give yourself a mindful break from the computer, desk or workstation and get in touch with the earth with a creative plant-themed craft which could afterwards be displayed by your work area.
Make a terrarium
A terrarium © Andrew Montgomery
Create your own mini garden for your desk with a stylish, dinky terrarium. You’ll need a glass vessel, potting soil, pebbles and a small plant or two (air plants and succulents work best). Here’s our guide on how to do it.
Create a colourful flower display
Get inventive with a blooming bouquet display which you could display on your windowsill or desk. Choose white, blue and purple flowers for a tranquil atmosphere or red, orange and yellow flowers for an energetic atmosphere. For a long-lasting flora-fix, hang your favourite flowers out to dry in a dark area at room temperature or press them in a book. You could then make a dried flower wreath, chain or pressed-flower art.