Our lives are hectic and we often find it difficult to truly relax. As well-documented research demonstrates, time spent in nature can be very helpful. But could it be even more effective if we enjoyed it in silence? If, instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted, we made time to listen to the birds and the sounds of the breeze in the trees?
During the summer of 2016, the Landscape, Gardens and Health network website hosted the pilot study for the not for profit project Silent Space. For a few hours a week, a variety of gardens reserved an area in which visitors were asked to switch off their phones. They were encouraged to sit or stroll in silence. No matter how busy the rest of the garden, the Silent Space was a place of tranquillity.
The response from visitors, volunteers and garden staff was very positive. As a result, the project continued to expand in 2017. By the end of the year, there were 23 Silent Spaces around the UK.
Tying notebooks to benches in a Silent Space has proved to be the least intrusive method of evaluation. Visitors fill the pages with poems and drawings. Most of all, they express gratitude for the opportunity to spend time in a garden in silence.
Silent Space will continue to expand in 2018.
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