Garden bathing is good for you, why not give it a try says Selina Botham

Try some garden ‘forest bathing’ when you visit garden designer Selina Botham’s garden in Surrey this year – open on 22nd May and again 23rd September 2022. Not sure what it is? Selina explains:

‘Forest bathing’ is the English translation of the Japanese phrase ‘shinrin-yoku’,  and despite what the name suggests,  you don’t need to get wet to try it.   It’s a way of spending quiet mindful time in nature, ideally in an ancient  forest. Research shows there are benefits for  both physical and mental wellbeing. Doctors are even starting to issue ‘green prescriptions’.

We first discovered ‘forest bathing’ at a course at Kew gardens during the pandemic. Subsequently, with the help of the Forest Bathing Institute, we have discovered that our own garden has been designed to encourage mindful relaxation in nature and is the perfect place to enjoy ‘Garden bathing’ (our interpretation of forest bathing in a garden setting).

Here is Selina’s simple guide to help you get the most from your ‘garden bathing’ – based on a visit to her garden you could easily translate it to your own:

  • As you come through the garden gate, pause and take in the green corridor.
  • Walking past the wood store, gently touch the cool green leaves of the hosta in the large pot.
  • Turning the corner, you emerge from the narrow darker space  and walk into the light and enjoy the spaciousness of the lawn. Pause to breath deeply and take in the views of the garden, the ‘hug’ of the various layers and heights of the borders, the trees and the skyline behind. Feel the sun on your face (hopefully).  Feel your body start to relax.
  • Be mindful of the water bowl, with its reflections and the depth of the clear water.  Feel the texture of the bowl.
  • As you walk around the garden, take it slowly and enjoy the curved paths and gentle planting surrounding you.  Listen to the wind in the trees, the sound of birdsong and bees.  Can you hear the gentle splash of the hidden water feature?  Enjoy the sense of exploration and discovery.
  • Pause on the deck and look at the pond with its reflections and wildlife.  The dark green textures of the oxygenating weed.  Can you spot one of the many newts and damselflies?
  • Notice the textures of the paths, particularly the ‘barefoot’ path towards the garden office.  You are welcome to slip your shoes off.
  • Look out for sculptures made from natural materials, including the bug hotels and stag beetle loggery.
  • Enjoy the various points to stop,  pause, sit or stand and allow all your senses to be aware.


Our garden does have an actual bath too and for this you would need your bubble bath!  We can’t run the bath today, but  you are most welcome to take your shoes off and sit in the bath, lie back and enjoy the experience of being cocooned in the deep smooth metal bath.

As you sit or walk around the garden, enjoy the planting which flows through the entire garden. Blues, whites and greens are relaxing colours and their repetition helps to makes you feel safe and relaxed. Yellow and orange give cheery splashes of colour.

Can you smell the lilac and viburnum opulus, rosemary and herbs and enjoy the scent of the newly dug soil in the vegetable garden.  The smell of soil has been shown by research to have antidepressant properties so breath deeply and get all the benefits you can from your visit.

Please do finish your visit with a taste of a cup of tea and a slice of home made cake.

All proceeds are in aid of the wonderful National Garden Scheme to help the nursing charities they support.

21 Glenavon Close, Claygate KT10 0HP  is open for the National Garden Scheme on 22nd May and 23rd September 2022.

The garden has been designed for all the senses and all seasons by RHS Gold medal winning garden designer Selina Botham – www.designsforallseasons.co.uk
You can read more about Selina’s garden and how it’s created in The Little Yellow Book of Gardens and Health here


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