One of the most incredible Sensory Gardens in North America. Used by myself as an inspiration for our own Island Sensory Gardens at the HCP
On a trip last November, while visiting with a group of TH and HT like-minded individuals…. I took a moment to appreciate the sheer power of the river and the blessing that I still had both legs to stretch out in the water. Despite the fact that my leg is no longer strong enough to stand in the rushing water with my leg. Blessings can be found in even during loss
“establish an individual connection with the planet, its seasons and rhythms.”
Read more: http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/Nhs-Launches-Gardening-Course-For-Depressed-Patients/2543789#ixzz1sH3lxgSh
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Very excited, as we sit together as a family, reviewing our plans to dig out the vegetable gardens.
True I am a garden designer with out a garden. In my defence, we’ve been planning the subdivision of our rather large residential property and I refuse to do things backwards. I’ve got scotch blood, and practise permacultural principles whenever I can. But we can no longer wait.
The sun beckons us, and the seeds we’ve been planning to start, are screaming to get in the ground. Over winter, my husband and I endured an incredible kitchen renovation (I use the term endured lightly, imagine the circus I had while preparing Christmas dinner.) My lovely new kitchen boasts a gorgeous 4’x7′ butcher block style island, crafted out of Alder.
I imagine it regularly covered in freshly picked vegetables, soil still hanging on to the flesh of the carrots and the crown of the lettuces. I dream of days devoted to canning with my mom; pickled carrots and beans, tomatoes and peaches, turnips, and beets. My freezer supplying us with frozen peas, asparagus and strawberries. We’ll be so inspired, that we’ll run out and bring home a pick-up load of sweet Chilliwack corn. We’ll giggle and dance around the kitchen as the kids break apart the kernels that have been cut from the cobs; little fingers submerged in the bowls filled to the rim. Traditions and seasonal rituals that mimic my own childhood in Abbotsford, B.C.
My recent injury means the process will not only document our successes, but address the many obstacles I will meet along the way. I don’t plan to leave the typical 4 foot paths between the raised beds. I know this garden will have to be moved and possibly destroyed when our lot lines shift. Our installation timeline is short, our space limited, and we’re trying to conserve on costs. As we intend to frame the beds in timber, we’re best to build smaller beds and let paths be 2 feet wide instead. Meaning I will need the assistance of a rolling bench or my little monkeys during weeding and harvesting practises.
Even the planning finds me instructing from a table rather than participating in the construction. I long for the labor but remind myself that I am simple not capable of the balance required. It will be wonderful to watch and document the project with my camera and notebook. My 11 year olds can certainly do with a little agricultural education and some time doing manly tasks with their dad.
This project will also leave room for some seed starting activities, which are easily documented. I will do my best to produce the records in a similar format to that of an Horticultural Therapy program. Presenting it to our readers in the same format I would a community program or school committee.
I am thrilled! Time to Get up and Grow!
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…
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.
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,
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:
I intend to add to this list as I try out new activities along my recovery timeline.
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.
The below is a terrific model of process, activity and outcome in social and therapeutic horticulture, as described in the literature showing the interconnectedness of all elements. I’m sure you’ll recognize the subtle similarities in Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs.
The model was created by The Centre for Child and Family Research, out of the UK and can be found on their website. The model can be found more specifically in one of their many Evidence-based reasearch issues, titled ccfr evidence issue6.
The “Camphill Movement is a worldwide organization of schools, training colleges and adult villages where caregivers and people with developmental disabilities live, learn and work together, sharing in a culturally rich and productive environment.” Needless to say, Glenora farm holds a special interest for me; being a Vocational program based on agriculture & crafting projects involving botanicals.
Most residents at Glenora farm produce products such as: beeswax candles, felt birds, tinctures, teas, spices & herbs, jams & jellies, jewelry, wool scarves, fruits & vegetable and much more.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Glenora, please use the link provided above and be sure to stop by tomorrow to read my interview with Matthew on life on the farm.
During my HT program, my mentor, Ann Kent, passed along a very helpful Garden walk template to help our clients and/or ourselves put a little more emphasis on what we might see or feel while out in the elements. I thought it would be a terrific template to record my own “Wheel abouts”.
I’m hoping it will inspire my readers to take a closer look when out for even the shortest of walks. Get connected, remember not forget you’re place in our ecosystem… embrace the symbiotic benefits and gifts this offers.
Elements of Therapeutic Garden Spaces – Local Walk: ______________________________
(The intent of this exercise is to make observations and record questions for your personal use.)
1. What were your first impressions and sensations when walking in this space?
2. Can you isolate any particular sensory experiences (sound, sight, touch, smell, taste)?
3. Is there any particular foliage, bark, tree form, etc. that has special appeal to you?
4. Are there any particular small spaces or views that have significant appeal for you?
5. Is there anything intimidating or off-putting about this space?
6. Are there any “natural” plant or landscape elements here that you could imagine recreating in a
facility garden or other therapeutic garden setting? Note how you might do this.
7. Consider the population with which you work. Are you aware of their personal or life histories?
In what ways could you, as an activity leader, make a real or virtual walk to this space relevant?
8. While you often cannot remove plant material or other landscape features from some of the locales that you walk, what might you be able to collect and use from walks close to your home or work site?
(What could you photograph or bring by way of pictorial references to support collected material?)
9. Do you have any questions about the area walked for this activity that need follow-up or research?
10. If considering this area for HT program activities, what must be taken into account with respect to safety, accessibility, washroom access, etc.?
*Now remember this template is a gift from my mentor, so please be ethical. If you intend to use something similar be sure to create your own questions. Soon enough you won’t need it. With each breath you take, you’ll find yourself considering the blessings around you, if you don’t already.
Horticultural therapy is a professionally conducted client-centered treatment modality that utilizes horticulture activities to meet specific therapeutic or rehabilitative goals of its participants. The focus is to maximize social, cognitive, physical and/or psychological functioning and/or enhance general health and wellness.
– definition found in Horticulture Therapy Methods, Haller, Kramer, 2006
It can happen to you, when you least expect it…
and in this case, it did
One minute I am swooshing down the hill, the last run of the day, at a fairly slow and steady pace, watching for my children to safely pass by. And the next, I am tumbling out of control.
I hear it then… the sound of bones breaking and shattering! As it was my first time breaking anything, I can tell you this. There is something to be said of that sound. It is an undeniable, surreal sound. When you hear it you can almost see it. Like being transported inside your body to the very place the break occurs.
The experience had me stunned. I remember hyperventilating for 30 seconds, my son screaming and crying beside me.
His voice crackling, “Mom! are you okay? MOM?!?!”
I snapped in to maternal mode, calming him down as people came to my side. My husband waved down a Snow patrollman, not knowing if I had twisted or broken anything. And before I knew what was happening, I saw another gentleman hiking up the hill towards me.
I was calm now, 5 first aid attendant in tow, my son safely down below with friends, humour in the air and slow yoga breaths with the occasional trucker-style swears from my mouth every time they moved my leg just a little too far.
All I could think about was Recovery.How long and what kind of physio routine was I in for?
When could I get back to my busy life. Running after my boys, my volunteer work, my Horticulture therapy Internship. Managing our home, my landscape design firm and my husband’s marketing department. How long would I have to watch life pass me by…..
My right leg carefully splinted; I was taken down the hill on a toboggan-style gurney guided by a first aid attendant and two skiers at the back with straps to slow the speed and keep me straight and bounce free. Once we arrived at the bottom, I was transported to the First Aid room where i was told I would meet with a doctor.
The pain was excruciating!
I consider myself to me fairly tough. Though my mother would tell you I couldn’t look at a scratch as a child, with out screaming myself in to hysterics. My breathing quickened and my teeth began to chatter, signalling that the adrenaline was wearing off and the shock was setting in. My snow pants and boots were carefully removed and I waved so long to my husband’s favourite “stretch pants” as they sliced them open at the seams. Before too long I have a shot of Morphine in my arm and the doctor was confirming the break. How bad the break was, no one knew. But it was bad enough that I would be transported down to St. Joseph’s hospital in Comox.
I can tell you, the snow patrol crew that cared for me were wonderful, and the Doctor was fantastic (missing a dinner party and risking a rant from his wife by staying on until I was in the ambulance). The second splint was fashioned with foam and cardboard which I would later proclaim thanks for when faced with taking it off for my CT scan and Xrays. My leg could not be moved. A simple flinch of a muscle would send me in to pain that trumped that of child labor, and trust me I know that pain.
St. Joe’s was a bit of a blur. It seemed like seconds before I was in Xrays, being told they may have to remove my splint. I laughed and told the technician to watch out for my good leg; I couldn’t be held accountable for it’s “swift kicking” action.
Back in the room I was met by two male nurses, whom politely tried to find a vein for my drip and helped me in to my very first bed pan experience. What a bizarre experience that is!
Not soon after did my Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Woods, arrive. The look on his face was enough to tell me my break was bad. My tibia was shattered, and front of the tibia was fractured all of the way down. I needed surgery immediately!
You see, legs are not meant to bend sideways at the knee. But when they do, the femur can and will dig, or in my case shatter, anything in it’s way.
I remember receiving another shot of morphine, being rolled in to the OR area while they prepared the room for surgery. I remember the anesthesiologist speaking to me shortly and then I fell into a drug induced sleep. I woke screaming in pain. My muscles had flinched as my body was falling in its sleep mode. Every nerve in my body filled with agony and I began to sob. I heard the sound of a few compassionate low voices and two woman came to my side, wheeled me in to the surgical room and before I knew it, I was under anesthetics.
I had sent my husband and sons home before I went in to surgery, it was a long drive to Victoria and the boys had scheduled events to attend. I woke throughout the night to ask for pain relief from a very lovely nurse and when I finally came to, I found my dad sitting beside my bed with a warm loving look on his face.
The morning proceeded as most morning-after-the-surgeries usually do. Not soon after I woke, I was getting sick from the morphine and Percocet, unable to eat the “food” that was brought to me, and talking about how I could get out of there.
I was visited by the Dr. Woods, who relayed to me that my break was one of the worst he’d seen. He had repaired the leg by replacing all of the sherds, using some composite bone materials and fastening my bones together with plates and pins. I would not be on my feet again for 3 weeks to a month and would not be able to bend or put weight on my right leg for 3 months; later I would be told by my Victoria surgeon it was more likely going to be 6 months. I threw up again, shocked by what I had just heard. Everyone, including me laughed.
After an hour of intensive work with the Occupational therapist at St. Joseph’s, I was ready to roll. I had mastered the art of crutches (not perfected, but I could use them), I could get up a few stairs and down, get in and out of a wheelchair, sit on a toilet, and learned how to use a special hook to move my leg with out beding it.
My leg was wrapped in a tensor bandage and encased in a neoprene splint. I was given a triplicate form for Endocet (now on Hydromorphone), a highly addictive pain killer, and told to check out when ready. If I wanted to transfer to a hospital in Victoria I could do so.
After discussing this with my dad, I was told my husband was rearranging a space for me at home. The mear thought of hospital food and the inconvenience on the family helped me decide to go home. We checked out and headed home.
The ride home was roughly tow and a half hours. My dad had lowered all the rear seats and fashioned a bed from cushions, blankets and pillows. My own transport coach! Anyone who knows the Vancouver Island stretch of the TransCanada highway and Malahat will know that I had to hang on to the handle over the door to keep myself from rolling on to my leg. We stopped for a bagel briefly and made it home in good time.
I was met by my children and husband, my mom and my dogs once we pulled in to the driveway. We carefully made our way to the entrance of my home and I slowly made my way up the staircase. Kevin, my husband, showed me to my recovery room.
The sweet man hat he is, had hired a moving company to move our bedroom furniture down in to our “Smoking room” (never used for smoking, only it’s title), on the main floor. The room is just off our kitchen and there is an entrance that takes you to my favourite reading room in the house. There is a little bathroom off the smoking room that worked out perfectly for my recovery. Already outfitted with bars for lifting and lowering myself off the toilet.
A tv was set up with our Xbox, for movies and documentaries, a rolling cart with my Horticultural therapy text, binders and resource materials. My computer, some magazines and a caddy for pens, medicine, salves or lotions, controllers, etc was placed beside the bed for easy access.
I would come to know this as my Recovery Den.
Easing into my bed, I lay still.
Staring out the window…. still in a state of awe.
The first day of my 6 month sentence.
I fell into a deep sleep while my mind raced on.
“How will my family make it through this, how will I complete my Internship, what will my children do with out me at the helm, will my husband be able to balance his responsibilities at the shop in our home with the kids, what will happen to my marriage, when will I be able to dance, to ski, to walk….”
I could hear my thoughts quicken. And when I felt my anxiety begin to take over, I breathed deep and repeated the word “ACCEPTANCE, acceptance, acceptance…..“