Take Charge of Your Long-Term Health

Make Time for Self-Care

 The six-month mark of the coronavirus pandemic is fast approaching.  This milestone is forcing us to realize we are not dealing with a temporary situation.  Our normal routines will not return in a matter of a few weeks or even months.  Many are struggling to cope with depression, anxiety, and grieving the loss of routine.  It is a well-known fact that prolonged periods of unrest contribute to stress related illness.  How can we protect our mental health during these turbulent times?  Taking time for self-care may be the answer to insuring long term health and healing.

Engaging in self-care activities is a method used to protect against stress and anxiety.  Self-care during the pandemic, of course involves wearing a mask in public, washing hands, a healthy diet, etc., but it should include enjoyable activities as well.  Think of activities you are fond of, and what you would like to accomplish, then assemble your list.  Commit to engaging in one or more self-care activities each day or several times a week.  To take it up a notch, challenge yourself and set a goal, to gain a new skill, or learn more on a subject of interest.  The goal should be achievable and focused on something that can be easily maintained.  Accomplishing a set goal offers a sense of pride and well being.   It will also reawaken an inner strength that may be suppressed during this time of uncertainty.

Regular exercise is of course paramount in the quest to lower stress and anxiety.  Getting outside for a brisk walk, going for a run, or spending an afternoon tending your garden are great examples of self-care activities.  But then, there are times when it is beneficial to just-be-still.   Reading, the old-fashioned way (holding a book, with pages and a binding) should be at the top of your self-care list.  Finding a quiet corner, away from your phone, and getting lost in a “good read” is a wonderful escape from our troubled times.

Below is a selection of book titles that address the people-plant relationship from several different angles.  Consider the following for your self-care reading list.  It is an opportunity for horticultural respite!

Fiction

Seedfolks, written by Paul Fleischman

Characterized as young adult fiction, everyone will enjoy reading this short novel and be touched by its message.  It is the story of an urban garden that creates a community, promotes tolerance, provides acceptance, and joy to all who enter.

Tulip Fever, written by Deborah Moggach.

This tale takes place in Amsterdam in the 1630’s when tulips were first introduced from Turkey.  Soon after a frenzy over the sale and propagation of tulip bulbs gripped much of Holland.  This tale of intrigue and lust focuses on Sophia, her husband Cornelis and a young painter, Jan.

The Overstory, written by Richard Powers.

The winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.  Described as “a sweeping impassioned work of activism and resistance…” The Overstory is a collection of interconnected short stories about people who learn to take a different view of the natural world.

Nonfiction

The Revolutionary Genius of Plants, written by Stefano Mancuso.

In this thought-provoking, handsomely illustrated book, Italian neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso considers the fundamental differences between plants and animals and challenges our assumptions about which is the ‘higher’ form of life.”-The Wall Street Journal.  After reading this book, you will never look at your houseplants in the same way.

Of Naked Ladies and Forget-Me-Nots: The stories behind the common names of some of our favorite plants, written by Allan M. Armitage.

This book is just fun!  The wit and wisdom of the renowned plantsman, Allan Armitage shines through in this easy read.  Any gardener will find this entertaining and come away with historical fact and fancy to pass along to others!

The Hidden Life of Trees, written by Peter Wohlleben.

This book asks the question; “Are trees social beings?”  A fascinating look into the social network that exists below the forest floor.  A must read that will transform your typical walk through the woods into a new experience.

Culinary

The Edible Flower Garden, written by Rosalind Creasy.

The book includes an encyclopedia of edible flowers, “From Anise to Violets” and the photographs are stunning.  Recipes include “Rose Petal Sorbet” and “Citrus Dip for Begonia Blossoms”.  Rosalind Creasy has written extensively on edible gardens.  She has authored two other books, The Edible Herb Garden and The Edible French Garden.

The Drunken Botanist, written by Amy Stewart.

“A book that makes familiar drinks seem new again…Through this horticultural lens, a mixed drink becomes a cornucopia of plants.”- NPR’s Morning Edition.  Another interesting read by Amy Stewart-Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.

 The Complete Kitchen Garden, written by Ellen Ecker Ogden.

This book comes full circle.  An inspired collection of Garden Designs and 100 seasonal recipes.  Garden designs include “The Paint Box Garden”, “The Four Friends Garden” and many more.  Included are resources for garden design, plant care and tips on preserving your harvest.

History

 A History of Zinnias: Flower for the Ages, written by Eric Grissell.

Did you know the zinnia is native to Mexico and it is one of the top 10 garden annuals grown in the U.S. today?  Or that there are 20 species and more that 100 cultivars of zinnia?  These facts and much more are included as well as the curious role that zinnias played throughout history.

The Botany of Desire: A Plants-Eye View of the World, written by Michael Pollen.

This book delves into the symbiotic relationship between people and plants.  Focusing on four plants; the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato, Pollen asks the question “Who is really domesticating whom?”

Strange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants, written by Jennifer Potter.

The John Tradescants are father and son, both gardeners and legendary plant collectors.  They traveled the world in the 17th century collecting botanical specimens that pushed the boundaries of horticultural knowledge.  The genus Tradescantia is named in their honor.

REFERENCE

Herbaceous Perennial Plants, 4th edition, written by Allan Armitage

Dr. Armitage makes the list again.  His newly released 4th edition is the “bible” of perennial reference books.  Helpful information for over 500 genera, species, and cultivars.  Every gardener should have this book on hand.

The Gardener’s Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names,
written by Dr. Ross Bayton

Beautifully illustrated and containing more than 5,000 plant names.   Each name is listed with a pronunciation guide, definition, and plant example.  A wonderful resource for those who wish to expand their horticultural knowledge.

Botany for Gardeners, written by Brian Capon

This book offers a clear explanation of the process of seed germination to mature plant.  Now in its 3rd edition, this has been a best seller since its debut in 1990.  “An outstanding and enjoyable introduction to botany…”- The Bloomsbury Review.

This is just a fraction of horticultural themed books available at your local library or bookstore.

If you have a favorite botanical book that has been added to your self-care list, please share it with us by posting on the HTI Facebook page.