I have never been the type of person to spend my free time at my place I work. This changed my first week at the Wellington Botanical Gardens. On my first full day in New Zealand, I decided to visit the gardens that I would be intern at for the next three months. I found myself wonderfully entranced by them almost immediately. The gardens drew me away from everyday life: I lost myself in the beauty of nature.
However, as beautiful as they were, I figured my first pleasure visit would be my last. I would soon spend five days a week working there; I imagined I would spend my free time elsewhere.
Happily I was wrong.
Week after week, I have lost myself in the charm of the botanical gardens. Countless afternoons have passed wandering the bush path, sitting in the pinetum, or enjoying Saturday brunch at the garden’s café. I have gradually fallen in love with the place that I work.
One of the benefits of my situation is that I regularly experience the gardens as both visitor and volunteer: one who sees the inner-workings of how it all comes together. Through these roles, the benefits of botanical gardens have become more evident. Although the benefits are countless, there are three main pros of spending time at a garden.
First, time spent at the gardens allows you to learn about yourself. Unplugging from social media and devices clears the mind of white noise. When distractions are replaced with nature, a mind and body synergy takes root. The outside world: traffic, music and conversations are dwarfed by pure consciousness, allowing time for introspection. The sound of wind through trees and the chorus of native birdsong replace internal noise. The Wellington Gardens provide countless benches in interesting locations to rest and think. My personal favorites overlook the cacti garden, the sculptures, with one even nestled inside of a bush. Furthermore, getting out of the house and going for a walk helps get the mind in tune. A botanical garden provides the perfect setting for this with countless trails and paths for a new route every visit.
Another benefit is its benefit to the body. A little cardio each day boosts energy levels, not to mention the air circulating in the garden is noticeably fresher; gives the lungs a break from urban pollutants.
Lastly, botanical gardens provide a stimulating environment year-round. Visiting the same spot can get boring, especially in the winter when parks lose their luster. In a botanical garden, there are constantly new plants coming into bloom. No matter the season, something beautiful bursts forth. Beauty never gets old; every visit offers a new surprise and experience.
I have worked in beautiful and interesting spots throughout my life, but none has provided as much pleasure as the Wellington Botanical Gardens. The hours spent sitting under my favorite tree or looking out at the breathtaking view of city from the Herb Garden have been hours well spent. In those moments, I have learned more about myself than I have in an otherwise busy year. Botanical gardens offer more than a beautiful sight; they offer an escape, a time for thought. I encourage everyone to experience this for themselves through a trip to a botanical garden.