Horticultural Therapy – an uncertified analysis of my own personal case

One of my earliest and most frequently recalled memories is eating a warm tomato, picked right of the vine, on the way to elementary school. I can still remember the taste, the smell, yes, even the temperature of that fruit that I picked from my grandma’s garden before we left in the morning. I think about this moment so often I’m not even confident it’s real anymore – and the significance of it isn’t really all that clear, except that I knew I wanted to replicate it.

So last spring, I set out to start my own tomatoes from seed for my first garden that summer – and I’m not proud to say it, but I obsessed over it! I found the perfect most sunny spot in the whole house (the front guest room) and had Mike move the furniture out of the way to make room for my new project. I positioned the seed pods just so over the heat vent so they could benefit from the heat and the blowing air (tomatoes need a breeze, you see). I checked their water levels every morning and I checked their growth every afternoon. When they outgrew their pods I replanted them and re-staked them and turned them and moved them. And March turned into May and I had a forest of tomato plants growing in the living room that I’d need to host 30+ women in for a bridal shower. I planned a garden party theme and half intended to incorporate the tomato plants into the décor (sorry, Tatum).

I was so excited to finally plant these little babies in our outdoor garden beds, too eager in fact that I set them out a tad early and ended up covering them with blankets to protect from frost each night, and uncovering them each morning so they could absorb the warm sun and become acclimatized. “Nigh’ night lil’ matos,” was a normal phrase in those days. As they grew I learned that I needed to prune them back on several occasions. We re-staked them again when they flopped over from weight. I prayed for them when hail was threatened. I watered them diligently on the few hot days we were blessed with. I bragged. I oggled. Like I said – I was obsessed.

And finally, after more than a half a year of work I ate my first tomato on an early September evening, around the time kids would go back to school. And it was warm, and juicy, and tangy and ripe with fond memory.

So I don’t share this story to be a literal nightmare to the tomato-hating portion of the population. I share it because for the first time in a while I was spending a lot of time on something that was giving me a lot of reward in return (aside from a nutritious and delicious snack).

Horticultural therapy, if you haven’t heard of it, is defined by the American Horticultural Therapy Association as “a process in which plants and gardening activities are used to improve the body, mind and spirits of people.”  The therapy itself is usually facilitated by a trained therapist with specific goals in mind, but while you don’t have to necessarily seek professional guidance to see the benefits of other therapy methods such as meditation, pacing, and other anxiety-reducing strategies, I don’t believe you need to work with a horticulturalist to see the benefits of gardening and working with plant-life.

Blue sky, birds chirping, getting my hands dirty – what’s not to love?

So here’s how my new project of growing tomatoes (and other veggies) has been helping me with my recovery:

  • I built more fond memories. It’s been hard to participate in a lot of activities that would leave me with new experiences under my belt, so having the capacity to engage in a hobby and interest that brings new sensations and memories is really exciting. The smell of earth, the cool splash of the sprinkler, the progress photos on my camera!
  • I gained a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I put in the work, and gained the reward.
  • I engaged in gentle exercise; puttering around the house to find light for the seedlings, tilling small shovels full of soil, and pruning plants allowed me the opportunity for light movement inside and outside of the house. I took many light load trips, watched my movements when bending and turning, but I was off the couch and out and about.
  • It taught me patience and acceptance of imperfections. Each seed I planted didn’t produce a tomato plant, and each plant grew didn’t produce a tomato. But I put in the effort anyway, and proudly accepted the yield I was granted.
  • It showed me physical proof that setbacks are temporary and not a true demise. Leaves heal from hail damage. Wilted plants bounce back stronger from drought. Pests can be managed.
  • I was given a new identity, conversation starter, and way to bond with others.
  • I increased my consumption of organic, nutrient-rich matter, which helps all bodies be their best versions.
  • I played in the dirt – which actually has a number of health benefits on its own.
  • I built, and continue to build new and stronger support systems. Neighbors popped over to see what we were growing. My garden mentor gave me all the time in the world. I felt energized by the passion of the workers at my favorite gardening centre.

While I don’t have a thesis or an experimental design or a research grant to back up my support of the benefits of horticultural therapy-ish, I’ve very much attributed the joy, purpose, and pride that I felt last year to the work that I’ve put into our garden. And the therapy will continue this year, not only for myself, but through my extension of sharing this with others. I’d welcome anyone to join me for a glass of wine, and some soil searching (see what I did there?).

18 Replies to “Horticultural Therapy – an uncertified analysis of my own personal case”

  1. If you want to use the photo it would also be good to check with the artist beforehand in case it is subject to copyright. Best wishes. Aaren Reggis Sela

  2. My wife and i ended up being glad when Michael managed to finish off his survey through the entire precious recommendations he got when using the site. It is now and again perplexing to simply find yourself giving out instructions which a number of people may have been selling. And we discover we now have the writer to appreciate because of that. The explanations you made, the straightforward site navigation, the relationships your site make it easier to engender – it’s got everything extraordinary, and it’s aiding our son and our family understand that situation is excellent, and that is exceedingly serious. Thank you for the whole lot!

  3. I wish to voice my love for your kindness in support of women who have the need for assistance with your topic. Your personal commitment to passing the message across came to be especially interesting and have specifically made somebody like me to attain their targets. The insightful report indicates so much to me and somewhat more to my office colleagues. Warm regards; from each one of us.

  4. I want to show appreciation to the writer just for rescuing me from this particular incident. Just after scouting throughout the search engines and finding thoughts which are not pleasant, I figured my entire life was done. Existing devoid of the approaches to the difficulties you have sorted out as a result of your short article is a serious case, and those that would have badly damaged my entire career if I had not come across your website. That understanding and kindness in handling every aspect was valuable. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I had not encountered such a point like this. I can also at this time look forward to my future. Thank you so much for the impressive and effective help. I will not hesitate to endorse the blog to any individual who needs and wants support about this subject matter.

  5. I have to express my passion for your kindness for folks who actually need guidance on your situation. Your very own dedication to passing the solution all through was especially insightful and have without exception helped others just like me to attain their targets. Your valuable publication denotes much a person like me and even more to my fellow workers. Thank you; from each one of us.

  6. I have to convey my gratitude for your kindness giving support to those who really want assistance with this important idea. Your very own dedication to passing the solution all around appears to be especially beneficial and have constantly allowed guys and women much like me to achieve their desired goals. Your personal insightful advice indicates much a person like me and even more to my office workers. With thanks; from all of us.

  7. I simply wished to say thanks yet again. I do not know the things that I would’ve made to happen in the absence of those strategies shown by you on such problem. It has been a depressing crisis in my circumstances, nevertheless looking at this skilled way you handled that forced me to leap for contentment. I’m just thankful for this work as well as pray you really know what a powerful job you are putting in instructing people thru your websites. Probably you’ve never got to know any of us.

  8. I actually wanted to type a word in order to express gratitude to you for some of the marvelous items you are showing on this site. My considerable internet investigation has now been recognized with high-quality suggestions to share with my family and friends. I ‘d tell you that most of us visitors actually are definitely lucky to live in a useful network with many brilliant individuals with very beneficial plans. I feel truly fortunate to have come across your site and look forward to many more brilliant times reading here. Thanks once again for all the details.

  9. Needed to post you that bit of remark in order to give many thanks once again on the pretty methods you’ve shown on this page. It is quite surprisingly open-handed of you to supply unhampered precisely what a lot of folks could have marketed as an electronic book in order to make some money for their own end, chiefly since you could have done it in case you wanted. These tricks in addition acted like a great way to be sure that the rest have a similar eagerness really like my very own to figure out way more in regard to this matter. I know there are lots of more pleasant instances ahead for people who browse through your site.

  10. I needed to post you a very little remark just to thank you so much yet again just for the pleasant suggestions you’ve shared in this case. It is so pretty generous with people like you to allow without restraint what most people might have supplied as an e-book to end up making some dough on their own, mostly seeing that you could have done it in the event you decided. Those suggestions additionally acted to be a easy way to comprehend other people online have the identical zeal much like my personal own to learn a whole lot more on the topic of this problem. I’m certain there are a lot more pleasurable situations in the future for individuals who check out your blog.

  11. I have to convey my passion for your kind-heartedness in support of those who need help with in this issue. Your very own dedication to getting the solution up and down was pretty significant and has continually permitted many people like me to achieve their pursuits. Your new interesting information can mean this much a person like me and additionally to my office workers. Regards; from everyone of us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *