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Firsthand experience with 'healing gardens'

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Courtesy of Doreen Howard

(Read caption) These flowers, as seen from my kitchen window, make me feel better, just looking at them. And they've inspired me to get out and work among them, even when I didn't think I could.

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I wrote two blog posts earlier this year on healing gardens that included interviews with patients who benefitted from their interaction with flowers, herbs, and even gravel gardens. (Click here and here to read the original posts.)

When I wrote, little did I know that I would spend the next seven months with myriad medical problems. And I’ve learned what the interviewees felt when they touched plants, strolled through gardens, and healed.

I now look at plants and my yard with a new perspective.

Who's going to pull the weeds?

The gardens outside the windows of my home have saved my sanity, acted as incentives to hobble outdoors, and supplemented formal physical therapy sessions. Pulling weeds that drive you crazy when viewed day after day through a window is perfect therapy to stretch limbs and build strength.

My husband doesn’t do weeds, and the teenagers I hired tried, but they pulled up lots of emerging perennials. I was finally forced to creep outside using a cane, and pull dandelions, thistles, creeping Charlie, and more. That day I felt better than I had in two months. I felt physically and mentally stronger.

A succession of flowers really lifts the spirits

Six years of careful planning, as to what perennials to place where, provided a nonstop, colorful show of blooms from March to now. First, it was the bulbs, from tiny Tete-a-Tete daffodils to raspberry-ripple-painted Estella Rinjveld antique tulip.

Then early apricot-colored Silver Cup peony burst with blossoms, along with landscape lilacs and a host of red, white, pink, and mottled peonies. Early geraniums like Rozanne and delphinium soon followed.

When I got home from the hospital, I was greeted with the heady perfume of Korean spicebush, surrounded with Silver Vase and Onyx Black hellebores, plus a host of heucheras, ranging from Plum Pudding to Midnight Rose to Ginger Ale and more.

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