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Nigel Dunnett and Muhammad Qasim

Private gardens occupy a significant proportion of the total surface area of a British city. For many people, the garden represents their only contact with nature and their chance to express themselves creatively. Yet relatively little research has been carried out on the role and value of such gardens to human well-being. We report in this paper on a major survey on the role of private, urban gardens in human well-being, conducted with a wide cross-section of randomly selected garden owners from the city of Sheffield, England, over the summer of 1995. In particular, we discuss the perceived value that gardens have to the well-being of people, both individually through the enjoyment of their own gardens and collectively through the contribution of city gardens to environmental enhancement. We relate these values to age, gender and social demographics.

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Erja Rappe, Sirkka-Liisa Kivelä and Hannu Rita

The restorative effects of nature in enhancing human well-being are well documented. However, the effects of exposure to a green environment on health in institutional settings have not been adequately studied. Our study describes the relationship between the reported frequency of visits to an outdoor green environment and self-rated health, including hindrances experienced during outdoor visits among older people living in a nursing home. Forty-five women assessed their health and answered a questionnaire containing the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) during an interview. A strong positive association was established between the reported frequency of visiting outdoors and self-rated health even when taking into account health-related distresses measured using the NHP (B = 0.235, P < 0.01). The main hindrances related to outdoor visits were lack of assistance and uncomfortable weather conditions. The results suggest that it might be possible to promote the well-being of older individuals living in nursing homes by providing them with opportunities to visit outdoor green environments. By increasing the accessibility and attractiveness of the outdoor environment, the frequency of outdoor visits could increase, resulting in better perceived health. Implementation of environmental interventions that facilitate year-round outdoor visits are recommended.

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Virginia I. Lohr and Paula Diane Relf

Throughout history, plants have been used to benefit people. In the United States, formal research to document the impacts of plants on people was not published until the 1970s, when papers from social and medical scientists began to appear. In the 1990s, symposia, including the first on “The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development,” brought people together from around the world to share and expand their knowledge in this emerging field. Symposium participants have included researchers in the social sciences and plant sciences, practitioners in horticultural therapy, teachers in colleges and public gardens, industry representatives applying the knowledge, and more. This has formed the basis for current activities in research, teaching, and practice throughout the United States. Examples from research that now documents a variety of beneficial impacts of plants on people are discussed.

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Eisuke Matsuo

Plants and horticulture play an integral role in the cultural heritage of eastern societies. Plants are deemed as important in many ways besides being a source of food and shelter. The present study summarizes information on research and trends in the value and application of horticulture collected from professionals in Asian countries, focusing on the work in human-horticulture relationships in Korea and Japan.

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Eisuke Matsuo

In August 1998, there were two symposia concerning human-horticulture relationships held at the International Horticultural Congress. The speakers at the first symposium introduced many activities that are occurring in this field around the world. The second symposium addressed allotment and community gardens. A brief summary of these symposia is presented.

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Margaret Burchett

Participants from eight countries met in Australia in July 1998 for the International People-Plant Symposium titled “Towards a New Millennium in People-Plant Relationships.” There were about 75 presentations arranged under three general headings: 1) plants, cultural diversity, and environmental quality, 2) plants for human health and well-being, and 3) plant and horticultural education—community and schools. The symposium represented another step in the dissemination of information and awareness on people-plant relationships.

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Woo-Kyung Sim

The Korean Society for Plants, People and Environment held its first International Symposium on Plant and People Interactions in Human Health and Quality of Life in May 1998. Three speakers, invited from abroad, were among those who made presentations. A summary is presented.

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Susan L. Hamilton and Kathleen DeMarrais

This study examined how avid gardeners experience a public garden. Phenomenological interviewing was used to collect data from six avid gardeners who frequently visited a public garden. Data about the gardeners' beliefs and actions regarding gardening history, gardening practices, and involvement with public gardens were gathered. From inductive analysis, a model of a gardener's world composed of four conceptual themes: 1) personal history, 2) social connections, 3) human well-being, and 4) learning experiences was delineated. The conceptual themes of a gardener's world are the personal learning constructs through which gardeners experience the plant world. Each of the four conceptual themes influenced how participants in this study experienced a public garden. Participants used a public garden to socially interact with others, enhance their human well-being, strengthen their gardening background, and extend their gardening knowledge and skill. Several subthemes emerged within the four conceptual themes of an avid gardener's world to inform us how gardening plays an integral role in gardeners' lives.

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Diane Relf

Research on the role of horticulture in human well-being can have application among diverse groups. Dissemination and application of research results can be accomplished through Cooperative Extension Service, the horticulture industry, non-profit associations, and trade associations for users of horticulture products and services. On e of the roles of the People-Plant Council is to increase availability of research information to these groups.