Gardening is an inherently soothing practice. The slow, peaceful growth of trees calms the mind. Touching the soil is known to have a healing effect. Every plant contributes its own beauty and harmony to the garden, but a few are especially good at relieving stress.
The mint family has a long history of medicinal use. Essential peppermint oil applied on the forehead can relieve headaches, and peppermint tea can settle the stomach. The scent alone likely awakens relaxing memories. Peppermint likes moist soils in full sun or partial shade and naturalizes easily in the landscape.
The serene indigo flowers of catmint exude a calm beauty. Their wafting scent may excite your cat—as it mimics feline pheromones—but for us, the fragrance is incredibly soothing. It also makes a healing tea, and when planted as groundcover or filler between other plants, it will become a source of perennial relaxation.
Lavender oil can relieve headaches, insomnia, and depression. The fragrant flowers will attract butterflies to your yard and inspire you with a sense of peace. Originating from the Mediterranean, it prefers dry to average soils and full sun. You can harvest bunches of the flowers to perfume the rooms in your home or to display in your outdoor kitchen. It’s especially useful in the bathroom where the humidity of your shower will bring out the full strength of the lavender’s aroma.
This ancient medicinal herb is known for its soothing effect as a bedtime drink. It eases you into sleep by reducing inflammation, and its gentle floral smell will relax your tension in the garden. Known to attract beneficial insects like the ladybug and hoverfly, it’s also a great companion plant for vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and kale.
We’ve all likely enjoyed its flavor on roasted meat or veggies, but growing rosemary at home is an experience of its own. A sun-loving member of the mint family, its potent scent will bring pleasure throughout the season, and its leaves will be ready to harvest by mid-summer. Though it is a perennial, it likely won’t overwinter in Illinois, yet it transitions well to a houseplant in the fall.
There is nothing stressful about a fern. Ferns ease your worries with their gentle fronds and air-oxygenating properties. They are not showy, aggressive, or fast-growing, but they will quietly unfurl themselves in the moist, shady groves of your yard.
These sunny flowers will brighten your day, and their seeds are high in mood-boosting magnesium. A common favorite in kids’ gardens, they can rejuvenate our spirits at any age and help us shed our unnecessary worries. Plant these annuals after the risk of frost has passed, and they’ll reward you with their cheerful blossoms by early or mid-summer.
Let’s not forget the aromatherapy of the lilac! We think we remember its scent until spring arrives and the lilac bushes bathe us in nostalgia. Pruning this shrub may cause a little stress, but let’s not forget that stress relief takes many forms! If a few deep inhales of their classic fragrance doesn’t do the trick, then it may be time to sweat away that nervous energy with some good old-fashioned gardening.
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.