Monday, September 10, 2007

Healing Gardens for Better Health

I was reading a very interesting article, in the May 2007 issue of Southern Living magazine. Throughout hospital campuses across the South, there are healing gardens thriving. The purpose is to provide a tranquil setting where patients can escape "their sterile environment and connect with the environment." The article focused particularly on the healing garden established at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston, TX. The garden is called the Chrysalis Project, and "contains a scattering of pocket-size beds carefully designed to attract butterflies."

The project was spearheaded by Chris LaChance, a cancer survivor, whose own experience at the Cancer Center inspired her to create the butterfly garden. When she was receiving treatment at the hospital, it only had a small planting area at the entrance. But "it gave her the kiss of nature that she needed." As Chris says, "When I sat out there watching a butterfly or a bird taking a seed from a bush, I would start thinking about how happy I was to be alive. It gave me such comfort to be connected with nature. It was an affirmation that life goes on after cancer." She says that she started the project because "I wanted to give that feeling of comfort to those who were going through the chaos of cancer. I wanted to give them a place where they could go and put it all aside." As she explains, "Things are living, growing. Everything is not dying. These little nuggets of respite offer moments of bliss. You can string these nuggets together to empower you." Chris also reflected that "cancer changes you. As you are going through it, things are forming and changing like in a chrysalis. There is a loss of innocence, and you know life is finite. But after cancer, you come out a complete jewel. You are stronger, more aware of life."

The article points out that the Chrysalis Project is unique because of the butterflies. Lots of healing gardens have shrubs, flowers, and benches, but not everyone allows you to see the metamorphosis of change provided by butterflies. Equally impressive, is that "the Chrysalis Project is totally organic, using no pesticides or harmful chemicals"; which makes sense especially in a medical community.

There were two health benefits emphasized in the article, that can be gained by healing gardens:
  • Viewing nature can help reduce stress in three minutes or less.

  • Research suggests that surgical patients who have views of nature experience quicker recovery with fewer minor complications.

After reading the article, I realized that all of us can benefit from our own personal healing garden, even if you do not have a serious illness. We are all vulnerable to stress, and the effects of just having a very bad day. It certainly brightens my day, and helps me relieve stress when I come home and look around at the roses, flowers, and other growing things in my yard. And don't let a butterfly pass by! A butterfly really does represent metamorphosis; things change, they don't always stay the same, situations can change for the better. Life does go on!

Click on the Link to view work in progress at the Chrysalis Project healing garden in Houston, TX.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gardening Equals Strong Bones

For me, gardening is a passion. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I recently read that activities like gardening can contribute to bone health. There was an article entitled, "Build Bones with Strength Training, " by Jorge Cruise, in the USA Weekend dated August 3-5, 2007. In the article it stated that researchers doing a six-year, nationwide study found that "weight-bearing activities like strength training and yardwork were linked to bone health." The lead researcher pointed out that "like muscles, bone responds to force by growing. . . bones become more dense." In addition, it is essential to get the right amount of calcium each day for someone your age.

It is reassuring to know that when I'm gardening I'm not just turning up dirt, I'm improving my bone strength too. GARDENING = STRONG BONES

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Have a Great Holiday and Enjoy Your Garden!

Take time to enjoy the holiday, and don't forget to stop and smell the roses!

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