Music: A Great Component to Women’s Health and Wellness

The Beth Chatto Gardens – A Little Bit of Light Releaf!
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One of the greats of British gardening, Beth Chatto OBE has entered the realm of national treasuredom. Plants-woman, designer, author, 10-time gold-medal winner at Chelsea, holder of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour and, of course, the owner of the celebrated Beth Chatto Gardens at Elmstead Market, near Colchester, in Essex – her horticultural skills seem boundless. With the concept of “right plant, right place” – in other words, put a plant in conditions close to its natural habitat and it will thrive without help – running as a thread throughout her career, she has inspired a generation of gardeners to take their lead from nature.

The garden has been the inspiration for many of her influential books, including The Dry Garden (1978), The Damp Garden (1992) and Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden (2000). It was created on land that was previously part of a fruit farm, owned by her late husband, Andrew, 14 years her senior, whom she married in 1943. “We met during the war,” she says. “I was a schoolgirl of about 17, considering going to college.”

A scholarly man, who died in 1999 after suffering from emphysema for 25 years, Andrew devoted much of his life to research into plant habitats. Chatto says it was he who inspired her interest in gardening and refers to him frequently, modestly deferring to his superior knowledge. “He’s such an important influence in my life,” she says. “My parents were keen, but they had a conventional garden, using mostly cultivars.”

The couple lived initially in his parents’ in Colchester, but in the late 1950s moved to a modernist house they’d built on the edge of the farm – where Chatto still lives today. Even inside, the garden is a constant presence. Large windows frame views and vignettes of the planting on every side and invite a tapestry of textures, colours and shapes into the house.

Chatto credits her husband almost entirely for her success. “My two daughters were teenagers before I began to think about making a business,” she says. “Andrew had looked after us and given me the security and freedom to experiment.” Her husband’s failing health and the trials of running a fruit farm concentrated her mind on developing the garden commercially, though what we see today took time to emerge.

“For the first seven or eight years, much of the land was a wilderness,” she recalls. Yet there were assets, too, not least a rare natural water source in the drought-prone east of Essex, where rainfall can be as little as 20in a year. “There were a few fine 300-year-old oaks and a spring-fed ditch ran through the hollow.” Today, the ornamental gardens cover about five acres; a further 10 are occupied by the nursery, which opened in 1967, and working areas.

Finding water was not the only challenge. “There was land that was so dry, the native weeds curled up and died. That eventually became my gravel garden,” she says. This she created in 1991, on the site of a car park. Apart from watering in the young, drought-tolerant plants during the first year, she has never artificially irrigated it.

Chatto has a knack for turning problem areas into an asset, and there are several distinct areas in the garden, each requiring a different approach. The large water gardens are dominated by a series of ponds surrounded by bog plants and swathes of lush grass. A long, shady walk runs parallel to one of the boundaries. Here, shade-tolerant planting – including ferns, tiarella and pulmonaria – carpet the ground beneath oaks and other specimen trees added by Chatto. By contrast, the gravel area is a mass of sun-loving perennials, with asters, rudbeckias and sedums glowing through hazy grasses.

The garden may have started out to give pleasure to a family, but it has developed into a self-contained horticultural powerhouse, attracting visitors from all over the world – about 40,000 a year. “It’s like sowing an acorn, which is my symbol,” says Chatto. “I have an acorn and an oak tree on a weather vane, which was a wonderful present from my staff.” Incredibly, it is tended by only one full-time and four part-time gardeners and volunteers – many of whom are foreign students. Chatto remains resolutely hands-on and is keen to pass on the knowledge she has gained through experience.

Chatto uses grasses brilliantly, and was doing so long before it became fashionable. She creates seemingly effortless but thoroughly satisfying combinations. Therein lies her genius – there may be others out there with an equal understanding of plants, but nobody else has her eye. Shape, scale, proportion, texture, colour – all are balanced with the skill of a plate-spinner.

She also factors in horticultural considerations – how big a plant will get, how fast or slowly it will grow, what conditions it needs to thrive and how it is maintained. The result is a garden that works on every level – practical, horticultural and aesthetic – with layer upon layer of carefully placed plants, as enticing asmillefeuillepastry. It all seems entirely uncontrived, but, on closer inspection, one notices geometric lines and angles. The big picture is built up gradually, with small groupings of three or more plants forming a satisfying melange of verticals and horizontals, and fluffy and solid plants. “I need the trees and shrubs to form a background, to paint the sky and lead the eye upwards towards the clouds,” Chatto explains. “Then one adds the embroidery, which I enjoy so much.” Nothing is allowed to get out of hand, but stagnation is not an option, either. “A garden is not a picture hanging on a wall,” she says. “It changes not only from hour to hour, week to week or month to month, but from year to year.”

Chatto has certainly noticed the effects of climate change. Drought is nothing new in her part of the world, where (the past two years aside) there is sometimes no rain for up to 10 weeks in the summer. “The most interesting change is the lack of cold weather,” she says. “Only 10 years ago, we had icicles hanging down, and when the children were little, they used to skate. Now we hardly have enough ice to bear a duck.” From an article by Rachel de Thame

Please visit www.bethchatto.co.uk/ for further information about this inspirational gardener and garden.

Whether you are a man or a woman, it is normal to undergo mood changes, depending on the situation at hand. However, women often go through hormonal changes, and these hormonal changes can make them feel invincible at times, and hopeless during other times. Thus, when it comes to promoting effective women’s health and wellness, it is important to note that music can do wonders for a woman’s mood.

The Effect Classical Music has on Women’s Health and Wellness

Has anyone ever stopped to wonder why classical music is often played at upper-end stores and restaurants? No, it is not just an indication of a status symbol, but rather it is to promote relaxation and a pleasurable dining or shopping experience.

Classical music also does wonders for women in the workplace or attending an academic institution. It serves as the ideal background music for someone who is getting some paperwork done, or for someone who is studying. Classical music’s main contribution to women’s health and wellness is that because it is mostly instrumental music in repetitious rhythms, it can soothe the mind without distracting a woman from what she needs to get done at the same time.

Popular Music and Women’s Health and Wellness

As wonderful as classical music is for those who want to de-stress, popular music is ideal for women who just want to let their worries fade away through a song with a good beat. For those women who need a quick way to take their mind off of their troubles for a bit, try turning on the radio to a popular music station that has a dance song on. Then, just let loose and dance around, or maybe even sing (this should be done in moderation if the woman is at work!).

Women’s Health and Wellness and the Virtuoso

For those women who are lucky enough to be able to play a musical instrument, there is no better way to de-stress than by composing a song or just sitting down and playing the instrument for a while. This is not only a great way to let out some anger, frustration, or any other emotion that is affecting the woman, it is also a wonderful way to creatively de-stress.

Music is About Choices

Whether a woman decides to go to a concert, listen to music on a radio, or play her own music, she should recognize that music is about so much more than entertainment. Music is a healthy and creative way to express emotions that might not be as easily expressed otherwise. Thus, women of all ages and backgrounds should embrace the healing powers of music.

Eddie Lamb publishes an abundance of information on a range of topical subjects. This article Music: A Great Component to Women’s Health and Wellness , is just one of a host of useful articles about Womens Health listed on our site map at Womens Health Prognosis.

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