Caring for the Land & People
Isabelle Boucq is a French native, a clinical psychologist, published author and former student at the Horticultural Therapy Institute. From 2009-2012, Isabelle was working as a journalist and living in California. During this time, she began to think of ways to combine two passions, writing and gardening. She was introduced to horticultural therapy from an unlikely source, and it piqued her interest. In 2010, she began taking classes at HTI where she found an avenue for her desire to write about caring for the land and caring for people.
“Before returning to France, I understood that a blog in French on the subject (hortithérapie) could be useful. In the spring of 2012, Le Bonheur est dans le Jardin was launched. Since then, I have been telling about initiatives in France, the United States and elsewhere. It’s a pleasure to talk with all these enthusiasts and tell you, their stories.” ~Isabelle Boucq
Le Bonheur est dans le Jardin or Happiness in the Garden 2022 marked the 10-year anniversary of Le Bonheur est dans le Jardin Isabelle wanted to do something to honor her decade of bringing awareness to hortithérapie-the therapeutic benefits of working with plants and harnessing the healing power of nature. It is Isabelle’s wish to “broaden people’s minds about what is being done in other parts of the world.” Her plan for this ambitious endeavor is to focus on the similarities and the differences between programs in other countries. Yet another objective is to demonstrate how we all face the same challenges and obstacles in our quest to create effective therapeutic programming for the purpose of healing and wellness. With these goals in mind, Isabelle began her international journey this past January. Each month she virtually travels to a different country to conduct interviews with those involved in using nature and gardening as therapeutic tools.
When Happiness Wandered the World
Isabelle’s May ‘22 blog focuses on the places she has been and the people she has met over the past 10 years. It was her intention to “take time to appreciate what already exists”. She highlights garden programs, horticultural and eco-therapies from across the globe. The article contains many links, useful for the reader who seeks more knowledge of the programs and people highlighted in this overview.
Isabelle writes eloquently as she recounts her experiences, both in-person and virtual, throughout Europe- Italy, England, Scotland, and Scandinavia. She goes on to include interviews from Canada, the U.S., Peru, then on to Japan, Kurdistan, and Benin. In the coming months Isabelle will be virtually traveling to Austria and Germany, then on to Asia, Australia, and Africa. An assessment of Spanish-speaking countries in South and Central America rounds out this impressive project!
Fédération Française Jardins Nature et Santé-The French Federation of Nature & Health Gardens
Writing is not the only activity Isabelle is involved with that promotes hortithérapie. In 2018, Fédération Française Jardins Nature et Santé -FFJNS, was created to bring together horticultural therapy, eco-therapies and other professions that use the healing powers of nature to support health and wellness. Isabelle served as president of this initiative for three years and remains an active member today. This past June, FFJNS was invited to participate in Jardins Jardin an outdoor gardening show that took place at Tuileries Gardens located in Paris. A team of professionals, that included Isabelle, came together to produce a garden instillation titled “Le Jardin, c’est la santé – The Garden is Health”. The intention of the design was to create a tangible rendering of Roger Ulrich’s 1984 study, View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery. When the visitor enters the exhibit, they find themselves in a stark and sterile hospital room. A hospital chair (like what you would sit in to receive intravenous drugs) and equipment are the only objects in the room. The chair is facing an open window with a view of a lush green garden space. A tour of the exhibit can be accessed using this link https://www.facebook.com/100009136577609/videos/2577066835761631/
Award-Winning Garden Design
The Garden is Health exhibit was very popular with the 25,000 visitors who attended this 5-day event. As a result, Isabelle and her colleagues won the” coup de cœur” award. Florence Gottiniaux, who designed the exhibit, is a landscape architect and a member of FFJNS and she describes her intention for the garden design in this short video https://fb.watch/dD5B_lVGyp/. (Note: when viewing the video use the captions button to translate into English.)
As she looks toward the future, Isabelle notices that “awareness is rising” in France regarding hortithérapie. The fact that FFJNS was invited to participate in Jardin Jardins is a clear example of this awareness. She also points to the heightened level of stress in daily life in France since the pandemic lockdown of 2020, and the resulting societal changes happening throughout the country. More agricultural and nature projects are now occurring within Paris and community gardening is becoming very popular with Parisians. Many French citizens are moving out of large cities and into smaller communities that offer easy access to natural environments.
Horticultural Therapies Global Reach
Horticultural therapy has a global reach and is not only practiced in North America. The practice may be slightly different in other parts of our world, but the intention is parallel. This is due to the indisputable evidence that the people-plant connection is ubiquitous. It transcends race, language barriers, and geographic location. Isabelle Boucq’s monthly blog exemplifies this beautifully. Her message is clear, we are all more alike than we are different… and we can all learn from one another.