By The Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society
Special to the Reader
If you’re feeling stressed or out of sorts, a 20-minute walk in a natural, forested setting can produce positive changes in your body and your mood. Plants produce oxygen, so take a few deep breaths. They also produce phytoncides — natural chemicals that can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones while increasing vigor. Some of the best phytoncide producers are located in an evergreen forest — a forest that contains trees such as pine, cedar, spruce and fir.
Finding this healthy habitat is easy to do. Created and managed by the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society, the North Idaho Native Plant Arboretum is located in Lakeview Park. Bike, walk or drive (parking is available, 611 S Ella Ave., by the Historical Museum) to this oasis of nature in the middle of Sandpoint for an all natural de-stresser. Among the eight different habitat areas in the Arboretum, you will find an assortment of phytoncide-producing evergreens. Visit the Arboretum for some tree therapy. Ahhhhhh.
While you stroll the shaded paths, inhale the fragrance of the Ponderosa Pine on a warm day. Get a whiff of the Syringa (mock orange). Feel the cool breeze on your skin and the warmth of the sun on the rocks. Listen to the birds overhead. The trees, shrubs, flowers, berries and ground covers offer an array of colors and textures to delight and rest the eye. The natural surroundings will stimulate and soothe all your senses, reconnecting you to our natural world. Ahhhhhh.
For centuries, artists have drawn inspiration from nature. Early botanical books are filled with detailed sketches of different plant species. Eighteenth-century writers illustrated their letters with drawings of plants. Today many artists enjoy painting local landscapes outdoors in natural light. If you’re of an artistic bent, grab a sketchbook or canvas and head for the Arboretum to relax with a bit of “plein air” art. It’s a great stress reliever. Ahhhhhh.
Painting or drawing not your thing? How about a camera? Look closely and focus on the details found in nature. Observe the diversity of various plant parts: their textures — smooth, hairy, sharp, bumpy. What is thick, thin, dry, wet, upright or wandering, soft or hard. Describe the leaves, petal colors. Get up close and personal with nature. Write down your observations. Try translating the different personalities of plants by journaling or in poetry. Notice as the chatter in your mind slides into a restful calm. Ahhhhhh.
Working in a garden can help you relax, too. In addition to providing exercise, a bacterium found in the soil may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relax and acts like an antidepressant. Mycobacterium vaccae has been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The Arboretum welcomes volunteers who enjoy pruning, raking, weeding and digging in the dirt. The good feelings are a bonus. Ahhhhhh.
Spend just a few minutes or a luxurious afternoon in the Native Plant Arboretum to restore your being and lighten your mood.This gift to the community from the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society is available all days, all hours to all who wander there.
A map and pertinent information about the Arboretum and KNPS can be found at nativeplantsociety.org and on the KNPS Facebook page :
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