The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) in Washington DC presents a new exhibit Flourish: Inside and Out from May 21 (this Saturday) through October 2, 2016. The indoor and outdoor exhibit, developed with consultation from Chicago Botanic Garden, showcases the proven human-health benefits of interacting with nature. Research has demonstrated that when people garden or otherwise spend time with nature, they experience increased productivity, better physical and mental health, healing, and improved test scores.
“Plants enrich our lives,” says Ari Novy, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. “In addition to providing the food we eat, clothes we wear and air we breathe, they also have profound and subtle impacts on our heath. The act of gardening has positive physical and emotional impacts on our well-being. Research shows amazing benefits of simply talking a walk in planted areas, such as parks, gardens and natural landscapes. Even a window view of plants has been shown to decrease convalesce time in hospital patients. Through Flourish: Inside and Out, we invite visitors to immerse themselves in the healing world of plants while demonstrating how everyone can bring the power of plants into their lives.”
The East Gallery of the Conservatory will feature indoor vignettes showing how plants can bring the outdoors inside in various settings such as offices, homes, schools, and waiting rooms. Each section will feature ongoing programs such as Green Bronx Machine that is growing greens and other vegetables in classrooms and examples of tools and techniques for indoor plant care.
Outdoors, Flourish: Inside and Out will engage many senses – the front Terrace will feature plants to stimulate the senses of smell, touch, sound, and sight. For visual appeal even at a distance, colors will transition around the Conservatory in a rainbow of warm to cool colors.
The east Terrace beds will profile organizations that use horticulture and gardening in a therapeutic manner with diverse audiences including veterans, current- and formerly incarcerated youth and adults, and people with physical and intellectual disabilities. These programs promote healthy lifestyles, supply horticultural therapy, provide horticultural job training, and offer gardening-based recreation. Programs profiled will include St. Coletta of Greater Washington, Melwood Horticulture Program, Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest, the Rikers Island GreenHouse program by the Horticultural Society of New York, and Denver Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield Farms.
Additionally, the exhibit will showcase accessible gardening with beds of varying heights and designs to enable people of all abilities to garden. Features will include beds and planters for standing, sitting, and wheelchair use and a tool shed featuring adaptive and ergonomic tools.
Throughout Flourish: Inside and Out, the USBG will offer programs, workshops, lectures, tours, and cooking demonstrations to showcase and provide training on gardening at home and ways plants and nature can enrich daily life. The USBG is also working with the National Park Service (NPS) to share how their Find Your Park program can help visitors connect with nature in national parks, as well as collaborating on veteran-related horticulture programs with the NPS American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial adjacent to the USBG. Visit www.USBG.gov/Flourish to learn more about the exhibit and associated programs.
Text and image courtesy of the USBG.