Personal Story: Cristina

“When your love for the ocean is greater than the fear of drowning: darling, you will surely swim”-sonia.

This is a quote that has a lot of meaning ever since I discovered it. I like it because it connects nature to self courage and beliefs; I took it as, as long as we appreciate nature, it will do no harm to us. You are meant to discover love and that beats anything.

How Nature has Affected me

For most of my life, I have always felt a oneness with nature. My family enjoyed going to the arboretum throughout the year, but specifically the fall, when the leaves changed colors. Unfortunately, growing up, I lived in a modern suburban area where I was not surrounded by trees. This resulted in my sister and I going to different forest preserves near my house.

One of my favorite forest preserves is Waterfall Glen, located in Lemont, IL. When I was a junior in high school, my family moved to Downers Grove where we were completely surrounded by trees. We moved next to a wetland. Since we have moved in, I have seen an increase in happiness around my household. Everyone is more uplifted because of all the green around us. I remember sitting outside and smelling the fresh green grass and trees and feeling completely at ease, something I was not able to experience living by fake trees.

It was not until quarantine in 2020, that I took advantage of all the new forest preserves around me. Thankfully, where I live there are many forest preserves. My sisters and I enjoyed exploring all the different ones during that time. I loved walking through them or going off the path and finding hidden streams. One of my favorite things to do in a forest preserve is read or journal. There is a sense of peace and happiness that I feel when I am leisurely reading outside.

When I came to U of I, I needed to be outside. I am a transfer student who transferred last year during the height of COVID. I lived in the dorm, which is already a lot on one’s mental, but especially when everything was online and there wasn’t much to do, I needed to go outside. It became a habit for me to take a long walk everyday in the Urbana area where there are lots of trees and green grass. Whenever I was feeling panicked or stressed, I would go on a walk to clear my head. It helped me tremendously. I especially love when it gets a little chilly and I have to wear a coat or sweatshirt when I go on a walk. My friends know how much I enjoy going on my walks, and then recognize how much it helps me. To this day, whenever I need to clear my head or get some fresh air, being outside and going for a walk is the best remedy.

Therapeutic Horticulture or Therapeutic Gardens? This year, National Horticulture Therapy week was March 14-20, 2021.

To learn more about the History of Horticultural Therapy or Therapeutic Gardens: click this link

Curious about the Practice of Horticultural Therapy, check out The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA).

Want to learn more about National Horticulture Therapy Week? Click here

Check out AHTA Therapeutic Gardens

Additional Resource:

Chicago Botanic Garden Horticultural Therapy Services

Garden Image: Buehler Enabling Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden