“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung
We celebrate joyous occasions such as weddings, childbirths, and career moves with flowers. In sadder times or with the death of a loved one, plants and bouquets offer hope to meet the challenges.
Since the beginning of time nature has been the secret weapon of humans to combat dis-ease. From the ancient Chinese with their medicinal herbs, to the Greeks and Romans with their gardens set amongst mineral pools, green has been a sacred color. The Quakers in Colonial America believed that gardens were a place of creativity and relaxation for the body, mind, and spirit. At Philadelphia’s Friends Hospital in 1879 a program to use plants as therapy was established after a physician noticed that his psychiatric patients who worked in the fields were calmer. The gardens were curative.
If you are feeling burned out from all the emails in your inbox, a quick boost of energy awaits you with a brisk walk in nature. Scientific studies now back up what gardeners have known forever-spending time outdoors is therapeutic! Since the 1980’s, the Forest Agency of Japan has been encouraging citizens to indulge in what’s called “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku to lower stress and increase wellbeing. Researchers at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo believe that technological distractions, city noises, pollution, and crowding lead to anxiety and ill health whereas the quiet atmosphere, aromatic smells, fresh clean air, and beautiful surroundings of nature provide relief for heart disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, and other disorders. A University of Michigan study discovered that individuals improved their short-term memory by 20% after a nature walk but those who walked on city streets had no improvement.
Although our Indian summer is in full swing with sometimes three digit daytime temperatures (and the possibility of being the warmest October in our history), the evenings are temperate, perfect for a stroll. The medicine of nature awakens our five senses allowing us to decompress. Bringing the natural world into your indoor environment is equally critical to good health.
Begin to create your own garden of healing and inspiration by incorporating these simple elements. Dream, awaken, and heal this autumn.
- ⎫ Make the choice for clean, healthy living. We have the ability to grow our own food no matter how small our living space. For indoor gardening experiment with grow lights or hydroponic measures.
- ⎫ Plant an herb garden that is easily accessible to your kitchen. Not only do herbs flavor food, herbs are healers. Their natural medicine can be used to increase energy, fight colds, relieve pain, and quiet the mind. Herbs can be grown on windowsills, too. Lavender will help you sleep, peppermint curbs an appetite, rosemary increases cognitive skills, chamomile soothes upset tummies, and basil is a disinfectant.
- ⎫ Encourage your children to join in garden activities that relate to healthy eating. Gardening lures children away from a sedentary lifestyle while they are learning about biology and nutrition. Let them plant, pick, and plate.
- ⎫ Minimize the harmful effects of UV rays by enjoying the shade of a tree. According to the University of Purdue, sitting under the umbrella of a tree is the equivalent of slathering yourself with SPF 10. Make sure your property has a tree or two as sun protectors.
- ⎫ Bring plants to your office to create a healthier happier workspace. Plants have been proven to increase productivity.
- ⎫ Create boundaries and define personal spaces with plants and hedges. We all need downtime to rejuvenate.
- ⎫ To maximize a small space, grow low-maintenance, compact blueberry bushes with multiple herbs and leafy greens in one large container for a continuous harvest. As a bonus, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, lavender, lemon balm, mint, and other fragrant herbs repel insects.
- ⎫ Clean, healthy gardening means no pesticides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers, nor GMO seeds. We want to ensure the health of people, pets, and our planet.
- ⎫ Take a class or workshop to help you grow your knowledge about living in nature.
- ⎫ Encourage lizards and bats to take up residence. The western fence lizard carries a protein that destroys the Borrelia bacteria that resides in the stomachs of ticks carrying Lyme disease, and bats eat 6000-8000 mosquitoes nightly. Other pluses are that lizards eat lots of unwanted garden insects and bats are pollinators.
- ⎫ Install a water feature. Moving water contains high levels of negative ions thought to reduce depression and other anxiety disorders.
- ⎫ Grow plants that make you happy. If you like lots of color, consider annuals like zinnias and sunflowers. If you like blooming shrubs, hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons are winning choices.
- ⎫ Include a place to sit and retreat in a private place. Installing a hammock is a rocking way to enjoy the beauty beneath the trees.
- ⎫ Add a focal point for healing. This could be a sculpture, a rock, or the fountain.
- ⎫ Stimulate all the senses with scented plants along a walkway for smell, a wind chime under an awning to listen, leaves to taste, textural plants to feel, and birds to watch.
- ⎫ Attract the pollinators-birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects for their remedial energy. Hang feeders, houses, and water sources, and, of course, add nectar supplying plants including Echinacea, butterfly bush, salvias, dill, and parsley.
- ⎫ Eat an apple a day, hopefully one from your own tree. Apple’s are a super food filled with fiber, antioxidants, and flavanoids. Research suggests prevention or improvement of/from numerous conditions including diabetes, stoke, dementia, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.
- ⎫ Save the seeds of your best producing flowers and herbs. Drying them and storing them in a dark, cool place is the easiest way, although with tomatoes and some other “juicy” specimens, you will need to access specialized information for seed preserving.
- ⎫ Prune heart risk by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and grow bones with 30 minutes exercising and weight training in your backyard. You’ll clip calories with the pruning, weeding, lifting, mowing, blowing, and planting.
Finally, no matter how busy your everyday life is, do some of the garden work yourself. In our neighborhoods, people tend to hire outside help for everything, but if you really want to indulge in the free wellness program designed by Mother Nature, it’s in your best interest to get out there and dig deeply.
Take a cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“When I go into my garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.”
October Garden Thoughts from Cynthia Brian
- ⎫ MIMIC Mother Nature by scattering wildflower seeds in fall for a spring showcase.
- ⎫ PRE-COOL tulip bulbs for a minimum of four weeks and preferably ten weeks before planting. Make sure to cool in a refrigerator at 38-45 degrees Fahrenheit without any fruit or vegetables that emit ethylene gas, such as apples. Other bulbs like to be stored in an area with good air circulation, low humidity, and away from sunlight with temperatures in the 50-7- degree F range.
- ⎫ DID you know that sunflowers track the sun? Mature sunflowers will tip their heads toward the east warming the flowers more quickly bringing five times the number of pollinators. Save those seeds! (UC Davis study)
- ⎫ OVER SEED lawns right before the rains come. I am using Pearl’s Premium organic seed and am very happy with the results. Follow directions on the package. http://www.PearlsPremium.com.
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at http://www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.