With no air conditioning, I am staying holed up inside my house with the windows and doors closed to keep the heat out, and a floor fan running next to me to cool and circulate the air. When it cools down in the evening I will go out and water the currant bush in my front yard.
The currant bush is new to me this year, having been passed on to me by my sister when it outgrew its space in her yard. My sister has a nice yard with native and non-native plants, edibles and ornamentals, all grown pesticide- and chemical-free. Plants thrive there for the most part and so, when they run out of room, my sister tries to find good homes for the plants that need to be relocated.
I have been a frequent recipient of the dislocated plants. My yard is also free of pesticides and chemicals, but the only things thriving here are the dandelion weeds. The sad truth is that – regardless of what type of plant it is – whatever my sister gives me tends to die once it comes under my care. So I’m trying really, really hard to keep the currant alive. It’s a personal mission for me.
It’s also beneficial to my mental health. Research has shown that interacting with plants helps improve mental wellbeing. Being around and caring for plants reduces stress levels, increases feelings of hope and optimism, and helps us to relax. Plants are kind of like green pets. They give us something to place our attention on other than ourselves, and we can derive pleasure out of watching them grow.
There is actually a practice called horticultural therapy. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA), "Horticultural therapists are specially educated and trained members of rehabilitation teams (with doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists and other) who involve the client in all phases of gardening - from propagation to selling products - as a means of bringing about improvement in their life.” Colleges and other organizations offer degree and certificate programs in horticultural therapy.
There’s even a National Horticultural Therapy Week. Since I’m not a member of the AHTA, I’m not allowed access to the portion of their site that talks about it, so I don’t know just what week that is. But if I find out, I’ll let you know so that we can all join in on the festivities.
Standing in my yard training a flow of water from my hose onto a currant bush may not exactly qualify as therapy, but it makes me happy. As long as the plant stays alive, that is. It’s turning a little crispy around the edges and I am getting a bit worried that it may go the way of its predecessor gifted plants.
But for now I will give it some loving care and see what comes of it. As one online article pointed out, as far as therapy goes, gardening is “dirt cheap.”
And it kind of grows on you.