Six ways to Survive Winter in the Best Way Possible

In Denmark they call it “hygge”, in Sweden, “friluftsliv” and in Norway it is “koselig”. Regardless of which term you prefer they all express a similar concept.  Surviving the cold, dark, isolating days of winter in the best possible way.  This year, with COVID 19 disrupting everything we know and love, everyone will benefit from a little “hygge” this winter.

1. Allow Indulgence

Koselig (“koosh-lee”), hygge (“hue-guh”) and friluftsliv  (“free-loofts-liv”) are all efforts to create an environment of comfort and calm that promote health and well-being.  Allowing yourself a bit of indulgence will aid in keeping a positive outlook.  This can include favorite foods and warm beverages, fuzzy socks, pleasant surroundings with candle-light or a woodstove, and most important…a connection to nature.  These practices will not only make surviving this winter more enjoyable but will also greatly benefit your mental health.

Taking a break from the news media is top of the koselig list this year. Providing distractions indoors and out is necessary.  Friluftsliv, which translates to “open-air living”, encourages us to support our mental health by embracing the natural world.  Even though, it may not be easy or comfortable to spend periods of time outside during the winter months, it should be a priority.  One way to achieve an indoor connection to nature is with fresh flowers from a florist, create a houseplant conservatory or place a bird feeder just outside your window.

Below is a list of horticultural/botanical distractions that will inspire indoor hygge in your life. If reading is your preferred way to create comfort, a similar list of horticultural themed books is offered in the August 2020 HTI blog.

 2. Watch a Horticultural Themed Movie

Moviesembrace hygge on a cold winter night with one of the following.                           

Greenfingers-(2001) Rated R Comedy/Drama.   Based on a true story.  A team of prison inmates are sponsored by a wealthy gardening expert to compete in the Hampton Court Flower Show.

This Beautiful Fantastic-(2016) Rated PG, Comedy/Drama.  A young woman aspiring to be a children’s book author makes an unlikely friendship her with her neighbor, a cranky widower…who just happens to be an amazing horticulturalist. Together they transform her neglected yard into an amazing garden.

Dare to be Wild-(2018) Rated PG, Drama.  Based on the true story of Mary Reynolds, an Irishwoman who sets a goal for the gold medal in London’s Chelsea Flower Show.  Beautifully filmed in Ireland, England, and Ethiopia.

A Little Chaos-(2015) Rated R, Historical Drama.  Two landscape architects design a garden for Louis XIV’s garden at Versailles.                                                       

3. View a Nature-Based Documentary                       

The Biggest Little Farm-(2019) Rated PG.  John Chester and wife Molly go on an 8-year journey to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres in California.

In the Minds of Plants-(2010) This film explores the complexity of plant sensory systems and asks questions like, can plants perceive their environment, feel touch or even pain?

Hummingbirds-(2013) Narrated by David Attenborough.  Even though the focus is on birds not plants, this is well worth an hour of your time.  Filmed with slow motion photography this film is beautiful from beginning to end.  A perfect escape for the winter weary spirit.

Intelligent Trees-(2016) The observations of Peter Wohlleben, author of “The Hidden Life of Trees” and Suzanne Simard, forest ecology professor at University of British Columbia are astounding to say the least.

The Gardener-(2018).  Les QuatreVents (The Four Winds) is as estate located in the Provence of Quebec, Canada. Over three generations, the family of Frank Cabot created one of the greatest gardens in the world. His garden design is described as a horticultural masterpiece of the 21st century.  It is an enchanted place of beauty and surprise.

The Botany of Desire-(2009).  This film brings Michael Pollens book to life, showing how human desires are an essential part of natural history.  Originally presented as a PBS series, this version is condensed into a two-hour video.

Dirt! the movie– (2012).  This film explores the relationship between humans and soil, which has provided everything needed for survival.  Today, soil garners little respect, it is abused and ignored. Have humans lost their intimate bond to Dirt!

Fantastic Fungi: The Magic Beneath Us-(2019). This special interest documentary explores the magical earth beneath our feet and the underground network that can save our planet.

4. Watch a “Green” TV Series

Big Dreams, Small Spaces with Monty Don-Described as “true comfort viewing, that almost makes life bearable”-The New Yorker.  This series follows horticulturalist Monty Don as he guides amateur gardeners on how to create the garden of their dreams.

The Big Flower Fight-(2020).  Think Best British Bake Off but with plants.  Competitors from around the world are challenged with what seems to be impossible.  This series is the ultimate in floral design and is incredibly creative.

The Victory Garden-(1975-2015) Feeling nostalgic?  The Victory Garden is the oldest gardening program produced in the US with first episodes broadcast on PBS in April 1975.

A Perfect Planet: The Story of Earths Power and Fragility-(2020).  David Attenborough guides the viewer through each episode as he analyses one of the great forces of nature that have created the planet Earth.  This is not to be missed!

Monty Don’s French Gardens– (2013-2018).  Monty Don is a force of nature…and gardening.  Look for Monty Don’s Italian Gardens or his series on Japanese Gardens.  You cannot go wrong with Monty Don.

Garden Rescue-(2016-2020).  This series provides 5 seasons of competition between award winning British garden designers as they travel through England helping homeowners design the perfect garden.

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge-(2015-2019).  Amateur garden designers compete for the chance to design and build a garden at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show.

Love Your Garden-(2011-2020). Alan Titchmarsh and his team of garden design experts visit incredible garden spaces and the gardeners who create and care for them.

5. Listen to a Horticultural Podcast

Podcastsa great way to learn more about our botanical world.

A Way to Garden Host Margaret Roach tackles everything from growing organic microgreens to the best garden tools and how to use your garden as a pandemic refuge.  This award-winning podcast will not disappoint!

Gardening with the RHS-Trusted gardening professionals offer the latest horticultural advice, tried and tested techniques and scientific research to enable you to get the most from your garden.

Flower Power Garden Hour-Host Marlene Simon takes her years of gardening experience and turns it into an unpretentious and humorous listen.  Everything from organic vegetable gardening, houseplants, to beekeeping and more, this podcast will cover it.

Humans Growing Stuff-Hosted by Mangesh Hattikudur this podcast is for anyone who has an addiction to plants, gardening, or a love of growing.  Mangesh offers unique perspectives on the people-plant relationship.  *Humans Growing Stuff is sponsored by Miracle Gro.

EatWeeds-An audio journey through the wonderful wild world of plants.  Episodes cover modern and ancient ways wild plants have been used in human culture as food, medicine, and utilitarian uses.

In Pursuit of Plants-In this monthly podcast, a range of researchers who work with plants across different fields are interviewed.  Topics include ethnobotany, medicinal plants, and historical studies, to name just a few.

6. Try an intellectual Distraction

Webinars/Virtual Classes-if you prefer a more intellectual distraction, check out these sites.

Ecological Landscape Alliance   A wonderful resource site for those with an interest in ecological landscaping.  Do not miss the free webinar series, “A Walk in the Garden”, a 13-episode series with a wide range of landscape topics.  This site also offers full length articles regarding many ecological topics.

The Herbal Academy   This site offers courses and workshops at reasonable prices for anyone with an interest in herbal therapies.  The blog posts guide you through everything from creating a materia medica to homemade herbal tea blends and much more.

Penn State Extension Offering a wide range of educational courses.  Learn about practical agriculture, elementary ecological education, forest management and so much more.  Courses are very reasonably priced, many for under $50.

Garden Design This is a gem of a website.  It offers much in the way of garden design with great articles from finding your personal design style to the 2021 garden trends.  Many interesting on-line courses and workshops are offered.

*Your local Adult/Community Education office, State and County Extension services and local universities are a wonderful resource for gardening/horticulture classes.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions most if not all courses are offered on-line this winter and early spring season. At the HT Institute you can sign up today for a fall Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy class and begin a new career.

Our winter/pandemic isolation does not have to be miserable.  Adopting the philosophy of koeslig, friluftsliv, and hygge will foster a healthier perspective and improve mental health during this pandemic winter.  Enjoy and Stay Well!

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