Horticultural Healing: Processing the Process

By Hilary Moses, Clinical Director

Over the past few months I havePacific Quest Wilderness Therapy Program been working with our Land Supervisor, Travis Slagle, to produce what we hope will be a great 3-hour presentation for the upcoming Wilderness Symposium in Boulder.  Travis’ energy about horticultural therapy and life in the gardens is infectious.   As we sit and banter, at times able to stay focused on putting together our handouts for the presentation and at times not, I realize that I know way more about gardening than I thought I did and that I love it.  I love it, seriously.  I spoke with Travis about my own process in my own garden.  I had planted some beans and “knew” they needed a trellis to grow up, which actually I found out, they do not.  Regardless, we had just cut down some invasive guava trees that are thin, strong and quite malleable.  I had a vision about the project but the negative self-talk intruded as I pictured the willow table I tried to make with my roommate while living in Idaho.  It was quite a conversation piece, though less than usable.  I am not that artistically or architecturally inclined.  I was not going to make something that really could hold through the weather.  I should just go to the local garden shop and buy something.

I found myself, nevertheless, engaged in the project and somewhat determined to create something.  The short story is that, I did it.  I created a cool and creative structure that twisted and turned, held itself up with the pressure and balance of the twists and turns and I was really impressed.   I talked to Travis about how I stared at it with pride, shattered my negative self-talk and assumptions and that now, each time I walk past it, which is at least twice daily, I have a reminder of my unexpected capability.  Imagine if I had something new in my life like that daily, even several times a day.

Travis and I are working together to polish up our presentation and figure out how we can bring gardening into the hotel conference room at the Millennium, because we absolutely do not want to facilitate a presentation on horticulture without engaging in a little transplanting activity at the very least.  The metaphors and stories and ways to connect to personal growth are endless, from knowing what nutrients need to be in the soil to understanding why a plant needs a larger and less confined setting to grow in, to watching a plant come back to life after appearing dead for two days as it gets used to it’s new setting.  We figured out that, next year, we need to sign up for a six hour presentation on Sunday and get everyone to a local farm, garden, nursery, something!  I wonder if the landscapers at the hotel will discover the basil, cilantro and rosemary we plan to secretly plant and pull them as weeds?

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