Restore Yourself in the Garden

Come into the garden with me.

Meet me in a place where balance, insight, and presence is abundant and clear.

As I grow to understand the needs of the plants and the trees, I lean into the chaos of asking myself “What do I need? What’s growing here?” My journey of getting to know the garden is one that teaches me how to lean into the rhythms of the seasons and deeply care for myself.

The moss teaches me how to thrive in unexpected places.

The rose teaches me to open up and reveal my inner softness, my essence.

The wind blows, the branches sway, and I am still learning how to be still.

Immersing oneself in a garden is a deeply restorative experience. In addition to my personal experiences, the study and practice of horticulture therapy has connected me to an expansive body of research showing the therapeutic value of gardening. Gardening and interacting with nature benefits many different groups of individuals ranging from youth, elderly, as well as mentally and physically disabled.

There is a growing consensus that as humans, we posses an innate tendency to seek connection with nature and other forms of life. This is often referred to as the biophilia hypothesis, first introduced by American biologist E.O. Wilson in his book Biophilia (1984). Our urge to affiliate with other forms of life is key to understanding the therapeutic benefits of horticulture therapy. The American Horticulture Therapy Association (AHTA) categorizes these benefits into 4 distinct groups: cognitive, psychological, social, and physical. Working with plants in the garden has been shown to improve cognitive functions such as memory and concentration while enhancing physical functions by strengthening our muscles, coordination, balance, and endurance.

 

The simple task of cutting flowers around the garden and creating a bouquet for a friend is one of my favorite horticulture therapy activities. A little bit of fragrant bee balm from here, a few sunflowers from there, and some lush foliage to tie the whole bouquet together is all that is needed to brighten up my day. It is truly a mulit-sensory experience. The scent of bee balm is said to calm the nervous system and alleviate anxiety. The brightly colored sunflowers symbolize hope and joy as their yellow heads mimic the brightly shining sun. The tactile experience of piecing the bouquet together stem by stem with my hands is deeply meditative as it clears away a clutter of thoughts.

Giving the gift of a bouquet is a wonderful sentiment, especially if its from your garden. Can you think of someone who could use a little beauty and brightness in their day today? Why not make them a bouquet?

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