The exam period – how the garden can help before, during and after

First published by Rattan Direct on 20 May 2016.

May is the month for summer exams. Even if you are lucky enough not to be living in an exam household, you will probably know others who are or people who are just coming out of the far end of the tunnel. All that stress, strain and revision gets to the most equable of souls and as for the rest of us … well!

Everyone needs some care at this delicate time.

Let us turn to the garden. A cup of tea, a well positioned seat, some beautiful smells … Drift away for a little.

Ida Saxton McKinley, seated in a garden, 1900. Ideas for relaxation during the exam period.
Ida Saxton McKinley, seated in a garden, 1900 (United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division, digital ID cph.3a05522, in public domain)

Let us turn to the bathroom. A locked door, a warm bath, some beautiful smells … Drift away for a little.

Camomile or chamomile? Not an exam question, it’s the same thing

We’re often lucky in May when warm days with little wind trap the smells of flowers and the herb garden.

Some people have camomile lawns to walk on barefoot. Once I sat with a friend on a camomile seat. These are lovely but they’re also labours of love to keep grass at bay and ward off slugs and snails.

Camomile (Matricaria recutita) in KIT Botanical Garden, Karlsruhe, Germany. Another herb to help you relax during the exam period.
Camomile in KIT Botanical Garden, Karlsruhe, Germany. Copyright H. Zell, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

Anyway, for here and now, take a cup of camomile tea to a seat outside, close your eyes, breathe deeply and get away from it all for 20 minutes. If it’s raining or you need to get much, much further away, consider a stroll inside at a garden centre where the fragrance of herbs and pinks (dianthus) in pots fill the air.

You might consider using camomile essential oil – a few drops on a tissue or in a vaporiser. It has a calming effect, and can be used to help induce sleep, ease frayed nerves, and promote a general sense of calmness and well being.

Lavender

Bees are known for their wisdom and they certainly like lavender, a perennial plant, with a range of varieties, with beautiful blue-purple, pink or soft white flowers. It has many wonderful properties and is perhaps the most important essential oil in aromatherapy. Its smell relaxes you gently by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure.

Lavender is a herb with relaxing properties, good for the exam period.
Bee pollinating lavender. Copyright Booksworm, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

Lavender bags among clothing and bed linen impart the reassuring air of a well run household.

A few drops of lavender essential oil really do work wonders. Lavender oil in the bath makes all right with the world, and try a drop or two on your pillow.

This lavender bath oil recipe sounds wonderful. If you have lavender to spare in your garden try it, invest in a few beautiful bottles and think ahead to Christmas.

On the first aid front, lavender is a first responder. It will help to heal minor burns and reduce the swelling of insect bites, and offers some pain relief. A drop or two of essential oil works after about 15 minutes. Use it every six to eight hours.

The exam period will pass but for now, let’s try to keep calm in the face of adversity.

A small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) feeding on lavender flowers. Lavender can help relaxation during the exam period.
A small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) feeding on lavender flowers. Copyright Zeynel Cebeci and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.

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