Healing in the Garden of Life

Posted: Friday May 14th, 2021 @ 9:42am


A garden provides both physical & intangible gifts that can be a source of healing. For me, the healing aspect comes from nurturing the plants & their seemingly oblivious reciprocity. Although the act of harvesting herbs & using their properties to provide health benefits is likely obvious, there is much to explore in the healing benefits of tending to the plants themselves. The act of respectful harvesting ensures that the natural cycle of the plant is maintained, often leaving the plant with minimal trace of the harvest, allowing flowers for the pollinators & tugging encouragingly at the roots, which stimulates new growth in many of the herbs I work with.

Working in my garden is participating in a vital life force that is natural in its cycle. While humans can influence rhythms already in place, through enrichening the microclimate or providing nutrients, we can access the vitality with simple appreciation and consider our own natural rhythms in observation of the natural world.

Life presents challenges & we can choose how we engage in the recovery from a setback.  My garden always calls to me in this pause. My baskets accompany me as I wander into the wilds. The vital life force that is consistently in place holds me intact and I am generally not thinking, I am focussed on working with the plants whom are so unaffected by the grief, confusion or despair that clouds me. Often the simple gratitude for the diversity of the life in a garden is metaphorical for the many shapes our lives can take.

Some really big curve balls have happened. I feel that soil & plant roots are able to absorb & dissipate the constrictions I might face & that I am not harming the plants while I process. I cannot support such a statement with scientific study, but I can say that I always feel better, always. The same occurs as I work with the herbs I have harvested, it doesn’t seem to matter what time of year or day it is. Through the rhythmic interaction of my hands in dried flowers, roots or leaves, stress & anxiety melt away. All aspects of working with nature offers a meditative calming that provides a larger perspective when I again reengage with the details of my own life.

As a child, I helped clear the bases of the totem poles in Kispiox & harvested berries with the Gitxsan friends of my parents. As a young adult, I attended the College of Phytotherapy affiliated with Cardiff University of Wales. In 1999, I designed and implemented the medicinal herb garden at the Tofino Botanical Gardens for George Patterson. My daughter, Sayge, seems to have come to this world with an inherent green thumb & appreciation. There has never been a time in my life that I have been far from working with plants for nutrition, directed healing or the simple joy of their presence. At this stage of life, I am completing a BSc in neurobiology with a focus on becoming a genetic counselor. It is my intention to continue to facilitate a positive interaction between humans and this glorious planet.


Carmen Bell

Clayoquot Botanicals Inc.



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