A GP practice in Manchester is prescribing plants to patients to help relieve some symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The patients plant herbs and vegetables at home and bring these back to replant in the communal garden. Dr Philippa James of Cornbrook Medical Practice says:

‘There’s a lot of evidence now about how two hours a week in a green space can lift mood – and then that too has physical, mental and emotional benefits. That’s something we need to harness.’

This is a powerful and forward looking example of using the power of plants to support the wellbeing of vulnerable people. What keeps people happy does not always need to be medical. We know from research that plants increase oxygen levels, clean air, boost recovery in hospitals, foster caring, happiness, and relieve stress generally.

Then why not use more plants in the classroom? It is easy to pot herbs like mint, rosemary, basil and thyme, and their scent is wonderful. Just looking at them grow inspires talk, devlops observation skills and fosters imagination – even better when you can eat them too! Otherwise, potted delights like pansies, geraniums and sedums add beauty and colour to any learning environment.
My first goal this term: If plants boost wellness then we need to bring them into our classrooms.