Category Archives: Horticultural Therapy

Going soon summer – Only Child dreads winter

Only Child’s front garden – soon to go dormant for winter

It’s raining outside and when that is over it will start to get cool in Toronto. A reminder that fall is very near (this Friday to be exact). I don’t mind early fall, except for frost which sends me running out into my garden in the evenings to cover tender plants. Just trying to lengthen their season because I know the tomato plants, the nasturtiums, etc. will soon die and the perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, phlox, artemesia and rue will soon die down for the winter.

I dread winter. I don’t get SAD but winter makes me want to hide inside; then I get somewhat claustrophobic and want to get out but hate the cold, snow (walking through and shovelling), the ice and cold weather. So I bundle up and go out to walk and meet up with friends and colleagues. And try not to fall down.

To tell the truth I want another “winter” like last winter. The weather was rarely cold and the snowfall so little my snow shovel might be stiff from lack of exercise. One and a half bags of sidewalk/road salt still remain inside and I hope they can stay in the same position this coming winter. Some people complained about the grey weather with little sun but I prefer that to cold, snow and ice.

Cold or cool/warm winter, one thing will be the same. My garden will go dormant and it will look grim and dungy in the front and back of my property. One year I took photos of all the bleakness of winter. Perhaps I will do so again this year. I will also bring my garden inside – well, what I can of it – some herbs, coleus, English ivy, citronella, even a couple of pepper plants (one survived indoors through last winter and went on to blossom and produce peppers outside this summer). I will take cuttings from some of my plants to create more and visit the nearby garden centres/florists for more indoor plants to create my own indoor garden oasis of coloured leaves and some flowers. Come late winter/early spring I’ll fill my windowsill with seedlings – the start of tomato plants, flowers and herbs for next summer’s garden.

As for walking – if it’s slippery and snowy, I may resort to mall walking or go to what is called The Path – a winding indoor walkway featuring shops and connecting to various places in downtown Toronto.

When “hiding” inside my house, I can continue rewriting my mystery novel.

One has to try to look on the bright side – even if the weather doesn’t.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Indoor Gardening, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Walking, Winter blahs

Fix what ails you – go into your garden

Only Child standing beside Black-eyes Susans and in front of black walnut tree in backyard

I’ve blogged about the healing garden before, but apparently without actually noticing what my garden is telling me this summer.

Although I’m not big on Feng Shui anymore, I do believe a garden will tell all, including some answers for what is bugging you. And I don’t necessarily mean the bugs in the garden. However, maybe I should look into the bug aspect as I’ve been stung twice. Both times I accidently shoved a finger or hand where a “stinging insect” rested and disturbed it. Maybe my answer here is I’ve been shoving myself into too many things without intention and getting bitten for my efforts.

The real thing my garden is telling me is to notice what is growing so well in it. With the drought this summer until the beginning of August, it is amazing that anything is growing at all. My bean plants are stunted and that tells me I shouldn’t be eating some types of beans right now. But it is the huge and taller-than-usual clumps of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) that catch my eyes and my soul with an “aha” moment. Black-eyed Susan is a misnomer as the middle is dark brown, not black (although the perennial also gets called Brown-eyed Susan). The main part of the flower fans out from this centre in individual petal strips that are bright yellow. The Rudbeckia is growing all over the front and back of my garden and when I sit outside I can feel the flowers penetrating my body and soul. Yellow is the colour for healing and this summer I am having a particularly hard time with my digestive disorder.

Then there are those two black walnut trees on my friends’ property next door. The branches hang over my property and provide much needed shade in a corner of my patio. It’s not the leaves or the shade, but the earlier-than-usual walnuts that have been falling off the trees, bouncing loudly like a ball against the house. The message: I need to take the homeopathic black walnut for my digestive system. At this point the jury is still out whether that will help, but once I started taking it, the walnut-dropping stopped except for an occasional late jumper. A reminder to keep taking my medicine?

My garden is full of signs about what is going on in my life. I just need to look and listen.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Horticultural Therapy, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child finds problem solver from roses

Only Child finds deadheading roses leads to a new way to deal with problems

I spent more time this morning in my garden than I had planned and I’m glad I did. As I deadheaded the dead roses on my rosebushes, I pretended each dead flower I snipped was a problem. Yes, I did run out of problems and was still clipping away.

But I found a tactic to deal with some of these pesky problems that seem to have no answer.

You probably know The Serenity Prayer – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

While in my rosebushes I thought of fourth and fifth options…”the courage to know which ones I can delay and the courage to delay them.” For me this applies to answering email whose content is imposing on my time now and in the future – I have to answer them sometime, but I don’t know what to say; waiting for answers to important emails I sent; and waiting for payments for work I’ve done. With the latter I seem to be getting screwed by the powers that be. Two cheques from clients, already processed and sent out, have not arrived. A few months ago a client from a city not far from me mailed me a cheque. It took a month to arrive by regular mail. But the one that may take the stupidity cake is a money Interac transfer that got lost in cyberspace. The sender had to redo it and resend it. That second one arrived. At least with Interac transfers, the money doesn’t come out of the sender’s account until the recipient correctly answers the sender’s question.

For the money delays, my hairdresser says there is something in the energy worldwide with money. Probably true, but I have other ideas for the personal level. No matter, I’m trying to put this one in the “delay option.” Not easy.

Does anybody else follow the ideas in the Serenity Prayer for all the stuff coming at them? Or does anyone have another way to deal with these roadblocks to getting on with your life?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Decision Making, Decisions, email overload, Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Life learning, Only child, Overwhelm, Problem solving, Problems, Roses, Sharon Crawford

Only Child on healing through gardening

Only Child looks forward to quiet time on the patio in the back garden.

I need to garden now to heal. And the weather and the garden itself look promising.

Monday, I saw the first robin of the season. The robin was moving across my front yard. The lawn hasn’t yet turned green, but in the back clumps of tulips and hyacinths are poking above the ground. I need colour, so yesterday I “dragged” my legs over to the local garden centre and bought two potted pansies. I put one on the picnic table on the backyard patio and hauled out a small table for the veranda and placed pansy plant number two there. Already I’ve been sitting outside to eat breakfast and lunch. Now with daylight saving time, dinners outside will soon follow.

This winter may have been the warmest in years in southern Ontario, Canada. But it also turned into one of my worst winters for physical health problems – two viruses in a month, acting as catalyst for a severe Vitamin D and Calcium deficiency causing extreme pain in the bone below my knee.  Hence the dragging my legs to and from the garden centre.

So, I repeat, I need to garden to heal. I need to get outside more in the sunshine. I need to remove the dead tops of last year’s perennials so this year’s perennials can appear and blossom. I need to turn the soil. I need to plant seeds – once my seed order comes through. Like nearly everything else, preparing the seed order and mailing it got put on the back burner until it threatened to burn. I need to tour the garden and see the wonder of what is happening. I need to sit out more in the garden, on the patio and on the veranda. Then I can receive the gift of Vitamin D from the sunshine and my leg will continue to heal. Just going outside into the garden, and buying the pansies lifted my spirits.

Gardening is therapeutic. As Anne Marie Chaker writers in The Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304620304575165831058222608.html, many nursing homes and hospitals are incorporating gardening of some sort – even just sitting out in the garden – as a way to heal. Being in a garden can change moods from bad to good and lower the stress level. When I yank out weeds, I pretend I am yanking my problems out of my life. That gets interesting when I superimpose a person (or persons) who have been making my life hell. But it beats yelling at the person, and afterwards I feel at peace and many weeds now lie in the compost or yard waste bin.

Studies show the therapeutic value of gardening. Two studies published last year in Issues in Mental Health Nursing (2011;32(1):73-81) showed that depressed individuals involved in a 12-week horticultural program with a three-month follow-up found the severity of their depression decreased. Participants felt the program was meaningful and influenced their life. (Pub Med http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21208054)

Horticultural Therapy, although emerging as a trend in healing therapy, is not new. Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed The American Declaration of Independence, said that gardens held “curative effects” for mentally ill people. (See http://www.ahta.org/content.cfm?id=history). There are national therapeutic associations such as The American Horticultural Therapy Association (http://www.ahta.org)  and The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association  which defines horticultural therapy (in part) as “Horticultural Therapy (HT) is a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities, and the garden landscape to promote well-being for its participants.” (See http://www.chta.ca/about_ht.htm for more information about horticultural therapy). Also see the CHTA’s links page (http://www.chta.ca/links.htm) which gives a bird’s-eye view of horticultural therapy in practice in Canada.

Meanwhile, back in my Toronto garden, I can’t wait to spend many hours digging, planting, pulling weeds, collecting flowers and arranging them in vases inside, and sitting back and enjoying the colours, scents and sights. Maybe gardening as healing is intuitive. My late mother also started early in her garden and I followed her. For some reason I equate our gardening with religion. Perhaps I was close; it wasn’t the religion so much but the healing of mind, body and spirit. As I write in my memoir in the chapter titled, “Practising Gardening and Religion”

In April, when the first tulip showed its face in the flowerbed under the living room window, Mom had to get out in her garden and do her vegetable, fruit and flower business. In the beginning, Mom and I moved in tandem with the garden and religion like we found parallels in them – both had beauty, filled us with awe, seemed to bring some order and ritual to our lives: plant seeds in spring and be rewarded with beautiful flowers and bountiful vegetables and fruit in summer; go to Mass and communion on Sunday and be rewarded in life with only good. For some of that time, Dad was still around to join us.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

And a footnote to last week’s posting on what memoir writing means to me… My guest blog, “Writing from the Heart,” about writing short personal essays/memoir for print and online publications appears on the Networds blog at http://www.networds.ca/Blog/content/writing-heart.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Horticultural Therapy, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Stress, Vitamin D Deficiency