Botanical Garden transforms into healing space for local community in the heart of Victoria |14 September 2020
Our memories of time spent at the Botanical Garden can be described no better than ‘timeless treasures’. The calmness, the greenery and bursts of colourful blossoms, birds chirping and rivers flowing, the warmth of the sun on our skin, and the way soft sunlight beams filter through the leaves and trees.
It isn’t a wonder that gardens are described as ‘healing spaces’ where people can improve their mental health and physical well-being. Time spent in nature, in gardens, simply walking through or engaging in therapeutic activities, is said to benefit individuals and society as a whole.
Beyond this, not much else was needed to inspire the National Botanical Gardens Foundation (NBGF) to provide new opportunities for the local people to use the garden as a place for healing purposes.
Seychelles NATION spoke to the chief executive of the NBGF, Raymond Brioche, and the human resources & administration director, Suzanne Dubignon, to learn more about this new concept.
They share with us first, a little history of the Botanical Garden, explaining that it all started in the year 1901 when Paul Evenor Rivaltz Dupont, an educated agriculturist from Mauritius, became the curator of the Botanic Station, as it was called at that time.
He used the garden primarily for experimental propagation and cultivation of valuable crops and ornamental specimens which he had spent much of his time collecting during his voyages.
The ‘station’ was transformed into the Seychelles’ Botanical Garden in the middle of the 20th century, since ornamental plants had become increasingly significant as the Seychellois developed a love for exotic flowers, and to become a place where locals as well as visitors could simply retire and enjoy themselves.
Today, beyond conservation efforts of approximately 4,500 plants and more than 150 different species, the garden will now for the first time in history actively promote relaxation therapy through a number of activities which will all serve to connect people with nature and to promote good health.
These will include nature experiences like slow and guided walks which allow you to truly enjoy your surroundings, art classes, botanical embroidery, healing therapy sessions using elements of nature for adults, adolescents and children, and a number of physical activities which promote both physical and mental well-being like Yoga, Pilates and Mindful Movement.
The Biodiversity Centre at Barbarons which is home to Seychelles’ endemic plants, will also host activities like guided tours, ethno tours, and educational tours where Seychellois can learn more about medicinal plants and even participate in tastings of various local and traditional concoctions.
“This concept is an especially important one at this time of a pandemic when people are experiencing higher stress levels, lower incomes, higher costs of living and the increased threat of illness,” says Mr Brioche.
“When we are in a green environment, we already have a connection to nature, but perhaps unconsciously. However, when we actively participate in activities while surrounded by nature, it has a very positive effect on our mental, physical and emotional health.”
“The Botanical Garden and Biodiversity Centre are assets of our nation which have been underutilised and we want to encourage our local people to embrace their therapeutic aspects and their healing properties.”
Photo credits: Creative Studios