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Have you ever taken a moment to investigate how you feel when you stare upon a bouquet of flowers, the flowers in your garden or in a park, or even in a photo? Nothing tops a fresh flower for it’s fragrance, its delicate nature or vivid colours.  Have you pondered why we gift flowers, find them beside a hospital bed or use them to represent or celebrate the death of a loved one?

In studies held (The Home Ecology of Flowers Study), Nancy Etcoff found that the presence of flowers has a direct effect on “peoples’ moods, feelings and energy levels.”  Three main findings listed with in the study site that…

  1. Flowers affect compassion. Participants who lived with fresh cut flowers for up to a week felt an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness for others.
  2. Flowers chase away anxieties at home. Overall, people felt less negative after being around flowers at home.  They most often placed flowers in kitchens, eating areas and living rooms, and reported a desire to see flowers when they got up in the morning.
  3. Living with flowers can provide a boost of energy, happiness and enthusiasm at work.  People were more likely to report feeling happier and having more enthusiasm and energy at work when flowers were present in their home environments.
Growing up with vegetable & flower gardens and later working as a landscape designer, I have always enjoyed displaying and arranging
flowers in my home. And I regularly give the gift of flowers for many occasions, even when there truly is no occasion.  
(I have noticed, 1/3 of my visitors have come carrying flowers. Others bring magazines, books and treats. All are welcomed or course.)

an impression of my flower arranging workspace

During my adventures yesterday, I managed to fit in a visit to my favourite flower merchant on                                Oak Bay avenue, Harry’s flowers.  Chatting away with my friend, I purchased a number of bouquets and flower bunches to replace the arrangements in my room now becoming sad and expired.

I do not need to tell you the importance of having a companion with me during this excursion.  It was pure kismet that she arrived during my visit to the cafe.  I had intended to go to the flower shop alone.  Something I could have accomplished, but would have been both exhausting and awkward.

Flower Arranging:

Much to my excitement, I was blessed by another fantastic bouquet of flowers this morning.  This one boasted an array of Spring and Easter colours.  Pretty butter-yellow carnations with red tipped petals, paired with pink & white carnations. The white petals tipped in mauve.   The flowers were paired with sprays of feathery foliage and what looked to be a miniature eucalyptus species.

All brought together by one of my most favourite floral additions; a spray of tiny organized blossoms with tinged purple petals and a purple throat, seen in the photo to the left.  It’s features are so stunning.( I do not know that name and welcome anyone to comment who does.)

It is important to note, flowers purchased or grown for the use of Horticulture Therapy activities with certain populations, and/or in care facilities should be cross referenced using a toxicity resource. A few resources include;

Toxic plants of North America, G. E. Burrows & R.J. Tyrl. Iowa State Press., Ames, IA, 2001.

Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America, Nancy J. Turner & Adam F. Sczawinki. Timber Press, 2nd ed., 1995.

Or there are Online resources such as,

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information

After yesterday’s marathon flower arranging fun, I had begun building my own home “Horticulture Therapy Cart”.  One of the most important tools used by professionals in Horticulture Therapy, is their tools and supply cart, a shed on wheels if you will.

My home Cart, is an Antique tea trolley with shelves.  The cart comes with a removable glass tray to protect the wood and has proven handy for easy clean up with the help of an assistant.  An HT specialist found working in Residential Homecare facilities counts his/her cart as  their most valued tool.  Some carts are transported to multiple facilities and/or homes,  while others are locked or stored on work sites cart holds supplies and tools needed regularly for my activities.

Items so far include:

  • secateurs (hand held garden pruners)
  • scissors
  • spoons (for digging and transported soils etc)
  • a cloth (for inevitable spills)
  • a table cloth (to protect my bed)
  • a stainless tub (converted to carry green waste & multiple vases)
  • vases (I have found it a pain to collect these while using crutches)
  • a pen and pencil
  • a camera (for documenting)
  • a watering can
  • extra floralife (non-toxic alternatives, ie: tonic water or lemon/lime soda)

I intend to add to this list as I try out new activities along my recovery timeline.

Observations: (Challenges & Future Considerations)
  • Must have someone to assist in filling vases with water
  • as in all activities were participant has minimal mobility, all supplies & tools should be previously collected
  • sturdy and flat working surface is best (bed is fine when vase does not hold water, however some plant material must be submerged immediately after being cut or vascular system will dry and cut will fuse.)
  • best to have side table near by or cart with flat surface
  • have diverse collection of vases or containers that can be used as vases available
  • splash mat is an absolute when working on bedding
  • extended, non functioning limbs must be worked around, careful organization of plant material makes arranging easier
  • plans for post-activity should be discussed and considered prior to project, ie. waste disposal, water source, organic composting etc
  • arrangements to be kept in recovery room should be designed based on vases and areas to be displayed (some cut shorter so not to block views, others displayed in skinny vase to preserve storage space or for display on ledges)
  • consider lasting quality or discolouration of flowers as they expire. choose long- lasting cut flowers, and those with denser petals
  • have someone help top up and freshen water in vases when needed

Stay tuned for more acitivities….

I intend to save a number of the flowers from my arrangements, with hopes to perform a pilot project with a few friends, in pressing flowers.  Prior to this activity, I will need to either enlist the help of my husband in creating a flower press or acquire a flower press from Lee Valley Tools.

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