CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Power of Plants!!

Posted by: Deryn Davidson, Boulder County Extension 

The power of plants. We eat leafy greens packed with vitamins and minerals to fuel a healthy body. We use their fiber for clothing and building materials. We use the shade of trees to cool ourselves and our homes and we search seas of parking lots looking for that sliver of shade to park our cars under. Plants prevent erosion, they clean stormwater, this list goes on and on! Given some sunshine, water and occasional feeding (if they're lucky) plants just do their thing and we reap the benefits.

So where is all of this musing about the awesomeness of plants coming from? Well, at first I was going to write this blog about all of the lovely plantings that towns along the Front Range do to pretty up their streets and make them more appealing. Fort Collins is becoming known for their lovely Old Town alleyways (when I was growing up, they were not so lovely...), Denver and Boulder put time and energy into making their public spaces planty. And Niwot, CO does a great job with this. Petunias spill out of fun and unusual containers that line the streets and a dedicated crew of folks drag a water tank around and water them regularly throughout the hot summer months.

Niwot, CO 

So, as I was thinking about all of these lovely summertime streetscapes, I started thinking about WHY towns and cities do this. It's because of the power of plants!! Plants (nature) make us feel good. Plants make a space feel more comfortable and calming and happy. Study after study shows that time spent in nature has a profoundly positive effect on us. A University of Michigan study showed that students who took a walk through the campus arboretum performed better on a short-term memory test than those who walked down a city street (I'll go ahead and assume it was an un-planty city street). Spending a brief amount of time in a natural setting can restore our mental energy know that metal foggy feeling? Research has shown that just looking at a picture of a nature can help clear that fog (looking at picture of cities did not have that effect). And we all know that gardening is a stress reliever!! 

When we go outside (or even look out a window at a bit of nature) our cortisol levels drop (the hormone associated with stress), our blood pressure drops and it can help us improve our concentration skills. Nature can even help our bodies heal. In a landmark study done in the 1980s, Roger Ulrich found that patients recovering from gallbladder surgery who had a room with a view to a small stand of deciduous trees had a shorter postoperative hospital stay, took less pain medication and had fewer post-op complication than another group whose view was to a brown brick wall. The power of plants. 

Niwot, CO
So thank you to the towns and cities who include summertime streetscaping into their budgets. Believe it or not, by bringing that little bit of nature to our daily lives as we get to work and run our errands, they are helping us all feel more calm and brightening our days! 


  1. Deryn, loved your article, I so agree! I have been reading about Biophilia the last few years (those of you that are not aware, look it up!). The Streets at SouthGlenn in Centennial does a lovely job with their plantings, both in the ground and hanging baskets. It makes you feel like you WANT to be there, and therefore improves their foot traffic and sales. I'm not much of a shopper, but I go to walk around and check out their plant choices!

    1. Thanks Susan! I know the feeling about not being a big shopper, but enjoying being there ;) Biophilia is awesome, I'm glad you're aware of it. We can learn so much from the natural world!! -Deryn

  2. hello I also think that being in touch with nature you relax and recharge your spiritual energy, I am producer of flowers and many of my clients tell me that my flowers fill them with good vibes, they ask me fertilizer put them to flowers, but really just I give them a good guide for them to grow,
    I guided my flowers with trellises mesh and grow my very happy flowers.
    I leave the link where I got these trellises meshes