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Flowers in Times of Peace and Times of War

If you enjoy reading charming accounts of historical agricultural pursuits, then check out Le Journal d'agriculture (Mai 1919), published by Le Ministère de l'agriculture de la province de Québec (Montréal) and now available online thanks to BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec).

May 1919 Agriculture Journal Cover

The Horticulture section, found on page 201, begins with this statement "Les fleurs en temps de paix et en temps de guerre." This translates to "Flowers in times of peace and times of war." The article, written by F. Pétraz, was referring to World War I, which had just taken place. The author noted that flowers may seem non-essential during the rigors of war, yet what do soldiers often receive when coming home? Back then, they were showered with flowers, either given to them directly or while riding a celebratory parade float bedecked with flowers.

This reminds me of a class I attended recently. It was about the benefits of Therapeutic Horticulture. There are numerous ways to help people using plants. Possibilities include both general and specific programs. Generally, plants can help people cope with trauma, while specific programs can help Occupational Therapists teach gardening skills to help patients improve their fine motor coordination. Some people have learned job skills via such programs, while others have been the beneficiaries of healing gardens designed to help hospital patients cope with illnesses. The list is long, and the future looks bright for anyone hoping to connect the dots between nature and healing.

The class attendees also helped to restore some faith in humanity, because there are really nice people out there who want to help others. Watching the news can make one feel helpless, but I saw numerous examples of people who are working hard to improve the lives of others. The mere presence of flowers can help one's health, as I read in numerous case studies during the class. The idea of Therapeutic Horticulture has been pervasive throughout various times in society, but the concept was not necessarily called therapy. The idea started to truly crystallize in the United States in the mid 1900's when medical practitioners utilized horticulture to help veterans returning from World War II.

When we start feeling helpless, let's find solace in the beauty of our landscapes. Let's share bounty from our gardens or area nurseries. Visit a local florist or grocery store to pick up a batch of flowers for someone who could use the good cheer. If circumstances disrupt such opportunities, then when the time is right, restore yourself (and others) by planting a flower as soon as you can. If that's not possible, then stay on the lookout for lovely plants to buy and share with others. If possible, visit a local park when the chance arrives.

Better yet, look for the beauty of nature NOW, and store those memories so you can recall them in the future. Soak up every bit of beauty and wonder. Immerse yourself into the landscape by inhaling the fragrances. Note the sky, whether it's stormy or sunny. Such memories may help to sustain you during challenging times in the future. Nature is important. Beauty is important. Especially during times of war.


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