The following article “VETS & ROSES” appeared in the Rose Letter published
by The Heritage Roses Groups. It’s an unusual way of helping Vets suffering with
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to cope with their problems. This not for
profit organization, working with the Wounded Warrior Project headquartered
in Jacksonville, Florida, introduces these men and women to gardening through
good horticultural practices. In turn, this can lead to many fields of endeavor,
such as, plant development and sales, landscape design, the study of botany, etc.
For more information: email Pam at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
VETS & ROSES
by Pam Greenewald
Rose Garden Angels, Inc. is a brand new not-for-profit 501c(3) corporation whose mission and purpose is to use horticultural therapy for mental, physical and spiritual healing to combat anxiety and to build social skills. We are growing roses primarily with veterans suffering from PTSD, but we also have a program working with at-risk youth at our local library. Our programs are designed to improve the functional independence in the program’s participants by developing or enhancing stress management techniques, emotional balance and psychological well-being through working with nature. Participants build social support networks by participating in group settings and interacting with peers along with a sense of empowerment through supplemental income opportunities.
We raise funds for the non-profit through donations and grants, but primarily through our wholesale rose company entitled “The Old Garden Rose Co.” The proceeds from the sale of these easy-care, hard-to-find roses go to support and help sustain our programs. The healing powers of the rose are well-known throughout history, and we have many years of experience growing all types of roses on their own roots — most importantly through organic methods.
Jeffrey Buchanan was active duty in the USAF four years. He was an
air traffic controller & stationed in the Philippines almost two years
then he was stationed in North Carolina. He got out of the military to finish school
and was in the Army Reserve while working to complete graduate school.
He stayed on in NC after graduating and taught English and workplace literacy.
Presently, Jeffrey lives in Bradford county and owns an
adult family care home. He houses veterans with a variety of issues
requiring supervised living. “I really like working with and caring for roses
and observing their progress. I like working quietly and caring for plants.
It helps out a great deal with anxiety and quality of life. I very much appreciate
the time and effort Pam puts into teaching me everything. This is a great program.”
I cannot think of any past time more healing than growing roses. There is something absolutely enchanting about this species for multiple reasons: beauty and fragrance not to mention it’s role as a symbol of love. Roses respond quickly to nurturing and let us know how they are feeling — giving us back many times the love we bestow upon them. We are able to establish a healing relationship with roses like no other plant. Taking a piece of a rose and making a clone of the mother plant by sticking it into a proper medium, keeping it moist, watching over it daily, until three to six weeks later baby rootlets appear is breathtaking. To see life continue with a new plant, which would have been passed down from the same plant originating in the 1800s is nothing short of a miracle. Then within a few short weeks to experience the first bloom on this new child of nature we have nurtured from the beginning reconnects us to Mother Nature.
The rose is giving off healing vibrations of the highest electrical frequency known in the plant kingdom (320MHz). This is a scientific fact. It is no wonder that the rose is synonymous with love. Thus we are able to raise our own vibration into a healing state from being with live rose plants. When we are able to take the rose home, plant it and watch it mature, bloom and grow, we then develop a real relationship with our rose which is the key to successful rose growing — just as the daily care and feeding of a child assures it’s success in life. One must treat the rose as a dear friend or a child, giving daily attention to it’s needs and understanding it’s highs and lows. The one needing nurtured thus becomes the nurturer as well in a mutually beneficial relationship. The work of caring for a rose garden or roses in containers once the client is back home promotes continued ongoing therapy. Thus the activity of horticulture therapy — when used properly without stress and in a relaxing and loving environment — nurtures the humans as well as the plants.
The art of growing roses quickly becomes addictive in a good way as one cannot help but want to grow more and more as each time the new roots are formed and a new rose is potted — a wonderful sense of satisfaction comes over the participant. Then to watch this young rose grow and mature is a stepping stone to healing our hidden wounds.
The use of organic fertilizers ensures not only the safety of all concerned including the roses, but also makes the activity more enjoyable allowing one to experience the life-force of the roses. Roses come in all shapes, colors and sizes, and there are many varieties that do not have thorns. These are used when treating diabetic patients and others who cannot be around thorns due to blood issues.
Lance Corporal Lane Harris was a machine gunner, 2nd battalion, 7th Marines Echo Company
Lane attends the University of Florida and is close to receiving his degree in Horticulture Science
focusing on organic crop production. He lives with his wife Kittie
and their new baby Declan Bear in Trenton on 10 acres which Lane farms organically.
He calls his farm Shovel and Seed Farmstead. Lane was a natural
when he began growing roses for us as he is great with plants.
Another exciting activity about our rose program is hybridizing (breeding). This involves such tasks as taking pollen, record keeping, harvesting seeds from the rose hips, refrigerating them and finally planting them. Any of the new seedlings that show promise may be grown and named after one’s friend or loved one. Use of open-pollinated seeds also speeds along the process. This is a very exciting field and one that supports mental healing.
The third activity of the Rose Garden Angels involves taking care of roses in rose gardens, which we help install and maintain with the clients on the premises. This provides cuttings and hips (seeds) as well as training in the care of roses with an added bonus being physical therapy.
There are many reasons to conclude that gardening may be therapeutic — there is evidence for physical, cognitive and social benefits. However, there may be something in gardening associated with providing hope for those who may have little else to hope for. This might ultimately be the most beneficial aspect of gardening therapy. which is based upon a sense of personal competence, coping ability, psychological well-being, purpose and meaning in life as well as a sense of “the possible”. There appears to be an intrinsic relationship between gardening and hope. The very action of planting a seed in the soil requires hope.
Horticultural therapy is the purposeful use of plants and gardens to promote individual mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual well-being. While the therapeutic use of plants is an ancient art, horticultural therapy as a named profession was established in the United States in 1973 by the American Horticulture Therapy Association. Benefits of horticultural therapy again include body, mind and spirit by utilizing physical activity, relaxation and enjoyment, skill development, creative expression, sensory stimulation, intellectual and personal growth, social interaction, a sense of productivity and self-satisfaction and a spiritual connection with life.”
Our very first program began on March 3 at Angel Gardens Rose Nursery with five veterans. Our sponsor was the Wounded Warrior Project headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. The participants in our programs were able to bring half of their roses home to care for in their own rose gardens. They are continuing to grow the roses at their own homes with supplies provided by the Old Garden Rose Company. where the remainder of the roses are being sold. All profits from the sales go back into the non-profit Rose Garden Angels, Inc. in order to insure the sustainability of our programs. Our motto says it all: “We’re Rooting For You!”