We are lucky to live in California, where the weather is mild year-round, and we can use our outdoor spaces as extensions of our homes/living spaces.
The need for human beings to be outside in nature is as old as time. Today, modern medicine and wellness experts acknowledge the healing aspects of connecting with nature, finding tranquil places to reflect, find hope and focusing on healing and strength.
During the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CiminoCare communities have been so grateful for their outdoor spaces, gardens and walking paths. Being outside, being able to smell the fresh air and plants, see the colors of the flowers and trees, and feel the many textures in the backyard and garden helps us to feel grounded and hopeful.
Portola Gardens, a CiminoCare community in San Francisco, is especially lucky to have a huge background garden and walking paths. We have lost count on how many times someone has said, “you’d never be able to build a place like this with so much outdoor space today!” It’s true. During visitor restrictions, Portola Gardens was able to set up outdoor visiting areas for families to safely visit outside in the garden. “Just sitting in an environment surrounded by 100-year-old trees, fresh flowers and an herb garden helped to normalize visits where people were socially distanced and wearing masks. You can’t help but take a big deep breath!” recalls Jeffrey Dillon, executive director.
Other ways Portola Gardens has used its Garden as a healing and purposeful space:
- Portola Gardens participates in the annual Portola Garden District Garden Tour that helps support horticultural education and preservation of garden spaces, especially in urban environments.
- Residents and staff picked sprigs from the holly bushes to make wreaths and candle holders and gave them as holiday presents.
- Residents plant and tend to herbs that get used in the kitchen.
- Resident gardeners are in charge of tending to the garden beds. They have a sense of pride in watching the garden grow and thrive.
- Walking paths and sitting areas are sprinkled with inspirational sayings to help prompt reflection, hope and healing.
We hope this inspires you to sit in a garden or backyard this week and reflect on your own resilience and the gifts that come from nature.