Know your plants – February Ecotherapy Activity

Your garden can be your sanctuary, even if you don’t consider yourself to be a gardener or want to spend much time tending it.  This little exercise teaches you how to evaluate the plants in your garden and how to slowly, carefully transform your garden into a more positive and rich place to be.

Choose a favourite plant in your garden.  Make a list of all the reasons why you like it and its positive attributes.  How does the plant make you feel?  What does it bring to the garden? Does it hold any special memories?  Really take the time to get to know the plant, its leaves, its bark, the number of petals in its flowers; how the leaves are arranged around the stem (do they grow opposite each other, or alternately up the stem, either on two sides or in a spiral).  How does it feel to touch, does it have a scent (leaves or flowers)?  Research it if you can to find out more about the plant’s origins and needs and wishes.  Do you know how to care for it? If not, research this too.  How is it pollinated?  Is there anything you would change about the plant if you could?  Are there any negative attributes? List these too.

Now you know more about the plant do you love it even more? Does it inspire you to care for it more or do you already take good care of it?  Ask yourself if this plant reflects a little bit of you and how you feel, or want to feel?  If it does, is this a feeling you would like to bring to the whole garden?  If not, are there different feelings you would like to bring to different parts of the garden?  Identify them.

Armed with this knowledge, do the same for a plant that you don’t like or feel ambivalent to.  When you’ve done this, ask yourself if you still want to keep the plant, or perhaps replace it with a different plant that makes you feel more positive.  If you choose to keep it, perhaps now it won’t seem such a negative influence in the garden, and you will better understand and be more willing to care for it.  If you think you would like to replace it, then you are better equipped with the knowledge to choose a suitable replacement that you will like, that will bring positive vibes to the garden.

You can over time repeat this exercise for all your plants if you wish, and you can use this to help you when choosing new plants for the garden too.

Ecotherapy Activity – January

January is traditionally the time to reflect on where we are, and it can often be the time we set goals and resolutions for the next year.  This short but wholesome reflection on ourselves and our life can ease the often felt pressure of resolution setting and keeping.  It can help you to understand yourself and whether your goals and resolutions really match your values and where you are in your life; whether ultimately the goals you thought you wanted to set are helpful and productive, or just more stress.

Your Tree of Life for 2018

Choose a tree and stand next to it

What makes up your ‘roots’?

Think of the roots going deep into the ground anchoring the tree into the earth to help it withstand the winter winds, and those that are the feeder roots, seeking nutrients and water, which are needed on a daily basis.  Think of all the things that give you your ‘roots’, your anchoring roots that give you the strength to withstand ‘winter winds’, and those that ‘feed’ you on a daily basis.  Write them down or draw them.

The tree stands solid in the ground.  It is ‘here’, and many trees serve as landmarks and way finders.  Where are you at the moment? Are you ‘here’?  Describe this in a few sentences.

DSC_1442The trunk and its branches stretch up and out in all directions, shaped by both its genetics and its environment.  Does this reflect your own growth?  The branches reach out into the air towards the light.  The thinnest and youngest twigs carry the leaves and the fruit, but need supporting by the older branch’s achievements and growth.  What are the fruits of your life?  What things have you been pleased to have ‘produced’?  What achievements are those new productive branches built on?

Holly fruit

What ‘fruit’ do you want to produce this year?

Think of the new leaves that will grow in the spring, the flowers and fruit it will produce, and how that depends on its roots and its environment.  What new leaves and fruit do you want to produce this year?  Do you need to put some effort into strengthening your ‘roots’ so that you can grow stronger and withstand more ‘winter winds’ or do you need more daily ‘nutrition’?  Do you need to grow new branches in a different direction, towards a better environment? Or do you need to fill in a gap in your ‘canopy’?

If you want to share your reflections, please feel free to do so in the comments below.  And please Note that this is not intended to replace professional help and support, and if this exercise brings up any difficult and hard to manage emotions or thoughts, please seek the advice of a medical professional.

Copyright Hannah Hobbs 2018