HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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As recent visitors to Keukenhof, my wife and I found the “Historical Garden” a botanical treasure. Here the delicate, beautiful multicolored tulips share the story of the development of 400 years of tulip growth and cultivation in the Netherlands. We learned about the origin of the tulip and found a reproduction of the Clusius garden, planted with tulip varieties that have been cultivated for four centuries. It was thanks to Carolus Clusius that the tulip became such an icon of the Netherlands. Any botanist or flower lover should include the Keukenhof Gardens on their bucket list.

Perhaps one of the most special gardens on earth is in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Keukenhof Gardens is the international independent showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector, with a special emphasis on flower bulbs. Keukenhof is considered the royal supplier of flowers. It has almost 100 exhibitors who give their very best range of flower-ing bulbs for display in the park. With these bulbs, the garden designer creates a special design for each exhibitor. In the space of eight weeks, Keukenhof showcases what the Dutch floricultural market has to offer. The focus in the park is on the 7 million spring- flowering bulbs, which is a chance for the participating companies to display their living catalogue. In more than 20 flower shows, 500 growers present an enormous variety of cut flowers and potted plants.


The history of Keukenhof goes back to the 15th century. The name means “kitchen garden.” Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria, Jacoba van Beieren (1401-1436) gathered fruit and vegetables from the woods and dunes for the kitchen at Teylingen Castle. Keu- kenhof Castle was built in 1641, and the estate grew to include over 200 hectares. In 1949, a group of 20 flower-bulb exporters came up with a plan to use the estate for a permanent exhibition of spring- flowering bulbs. That signaled the birth of Keukenhof Gardens Park. The park opened its gates to the public in 1950 and was an instant success, with 236,000 visitors in the first year. During the past 66 years, Keukenhof has become a world-famous attraction.

THE FLORAL BEAUTY OF KEUKENHOF GARDENS

 In 2016, the 67th edition of Keukenhof took place with “The Golden Age” as its theme.


The variety of gardens featured at Keukenhof make it a park to enjoy. The inspirational gardens provide a link to present-day floral trends. Visitors will discover a tasteful garden with bulb flowers in lovely shades of pink and red varieties of tulips devoted to romance and love.


The “sensory garden” is a new inspirational garden designed by the most famous of Dutch gardeners, Rob Verlinden. In the sensory garden, feeling, smell and sight are the points of focus.


Among the most unique of the gardens is the Delfts Blauw garden. Midway through the 17th century, the potters in Delft managed to copy the Chinese blue-white porcelain earthenware. Delft Blue became extremely popular. To this day, the blue-white combination is used widely, and in this garden there is a wonderful assortment of blue and white flowers.  

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller