We often refer to the healing power of nature—the quiet calm that can come from a simple stroll in the woods, or an evening under the stars. And it’s not just anecdotal: scientific research is increasingly demonstrating the positive effects of nature on physical and mental health.
A team of Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers is working to educate the community on these health benefits by installing signage in local parks and outdoor spaces, pointing to elements that facilitate a sense of calm and connection to the natural world.
The first of these “healing gardens” officially launched this summer at the Muriel Sahlin Arboretum in Roseville. “It’s a beautiful spot for walking and relaxation and enjoying nature,” said Susan Mitchell, a Master Gardener volunteer and co-leader of the project.
The team relied on research to guide their signage, directing the public to features that are known to have physical and mental health benefits like running water and quiet areas to sit. “We know that there are certain specific elements within each environment that really can help … you feel better, think better, sleep better—all those things,” said Martha Lantz, who is leading the effort alongside Mitchell.
At Muriel Sahlin, the healing garden has been named “Nature Heals.” The project is a partnership with the Roseville Department of Parks and Recreation.
At a launch celebration in August, members of the public were asked to quantify their level of happiness before and after strolling through the garden. Most saw a significant improvement in mood in just a short period of time. “We got some really great metrics—I mean, really powerful,” Lantz said.
The launch coincided with an annual community gathering at the arboretum, and many members of the local community were in attendance.
Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers are now hoping to train regular volunteers at the Muriel Sahlin arboretum to teach visitors about Nature Heals in the months and years ahead. Master Gardener volunteers will also be looking for additional partner sites in Roseville, and across Ramsey County, to expand access to healing gardens more broadly.
Curious to learn more about healing gardens? Here are some core components:
Space to sit
Focal point for meditation
Variety of colors
Mimics mother nature
As the program develops further, we’ll highlight progress on our website. If you have questions or comments, contact us at https://www.ramseymastergardeners.org/contact-us.
Britta Greene is a Ramsey County Master Gardener Volunteer