Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Flowers are a simple way to improve emotional health

The phrase “flower power” coined in the mid-sixties tends to conjure up an “imaged power” and images of VW buses, daisies and lava lamps. In recent years, many studies have been conducted that have proven that “Flower Power” really does exist. The types and colors of the flowers that you choose to plant in your garden can say more about you and do more good for others than you probably think.
Rutgers University behavioral studies have proven that flowers provide a simple way to improve emotional health -- that the presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.
Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers and lead researcher on the study states, “Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy,” and “Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well-being.”
The Rutgers study revealed that:
• Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness. All study participants expressed “true” or “excited” smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude.
• Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Specifically, study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.
International color expert and author Leatrice Eiseman believes that the color of the flower and design combinations can evoke strong emotional response. The artful use of color is more essential to our consciousness than we realize. Eiseman believes that certain color combinations -- easily expressed in gardening and floral arrangements -- can stimulate and relax the senses, release happy memories and enhance our moods.
Eiseman has developed five emotional color palettes:
• Nurturing: A true sense of caring is created by a combination of colors that are fragile, soft and tender. Arrangements in pastel shades and the softest yellows, peaches, warm pinks, creamy whites and subtle greens make us feel safe, snug and loved.
• Sensuous: The rich, luxurious color combinations of the sensuous palette set the mood for sophisticated, passionate and even seductive settings. Robust reds and purples, hot pinks and spicy oranges are at the soul of this dynamic floral feeling.
• Tranquil: Serenity and relaxation are the essence of this color scheme. Its peaceful palette, reminiscent of sky and sea, is dominated by clear, lights shades of green, misty blues and other cool hues.
• Whimsical: Fun-loving, free-spirited, playful feelings are conveyed by the whimsical palette, which is characterized by bold, contrasting colors.
So whatever your reason to garden --remember that your emotions will benefit -- and so will all who admire your work.
To read the entire academic study by Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers go to
Jim Gainan is president of Gainan's Flowers and Garden Center in Billings, MT. He can be reached via email: