Pat Mount is a self-professed “plantaholic.”

From the first grade, when her mom let her plant snapdragons and in her eagerness to water them she washed the seeds away with a hose, to her current garden, which has been an ongoing project spanning 21 years, plants have always been a part of her life.

That’s why when she and her husband had Sam Epps of Epco Homes build their Bakersfield home in the late ’90s, she wanted the backyard to be left bare. They put down a gravel path, leaving the remaining area open for her future garden.

“I brought over all my plants in pots and I planted up the front porch first,” Mount said.

Eventually, her garden grew and grew until nearly every inch of the half-acre space was covered. Even the gravel path has been upgraded with antique bricks Mount acquired at an estate sale.

“I’ve got a lot of roses — at least 300 roses,” she said. “Lots of succulents. Perennials mostly. There are a lot of bulbs that will come up at different times of the year.”

Not only does gardening add an attractive visual element to one’s home, research conducted by Charles Hall and Melinda Knuth at Texas A&M supports the notion that living in or near green spaces can improve mood, reduce stress, encourage physical activity, improve cognition, reduce aggression and improve the well-being of people of all ages.

“It’s peaceful,” Mount said. “It’s very peaceful. If you’re stressed, just coming out here with (the sounds of the water), it’s very calming.”

Mount admits that since she retired, she likes to be out in the garden almost all day long, except in the summertime, when she gets up at 5 a.m. to start her daily maintenance and is finished by 9.

“During the summertime is the least amount of time I spend — between July and August,” she said. “But right now, I can’t wait to get in the yard.”

Whether Mount realizes it or not, the time spent in and near her garden is doing wonders for her health and well-being. According to the review data, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, spending time in natural settings can help with recovery from mental fatigue, reduces high blood pressure, lowers anxiety and even reduces symptoms of depression. The study concluded that those who interact with nature have been shown to report greater overall happiness and satisfaction with life.

“If you’ve got plants, you can take your thoughts away from yourself,” Mount said. “You’ve got to take care of this plant and make it better — help it to grow so you don’t think about yourself so much or the problems that you have.” 

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