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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spread the Flower Love Blog Tour: Amy Brecount White, Author of Forget-Her-Nots

Healing Blooms by Amy Brecount White

I was absolutely thrilled when the Book Butterfly asked me to write about the healing properties of plants, because I think it’s a fascinating and important topic. Human beings have used flowers and plants to heal physically for thousands of years. One example is digitalis, commonly known as foxglove, which is used to treat heart conditions or the plant aloe, which we use to treat burns. And, as we all know, one of the reasons we need to preserve the rainforests is that their plants may contain yet-to-be-discovered cures to diseases, such as cancer.

As I mention in Forget-Her-Nots, plants can be used to heal the earth itself, too. Certain types of ferns, for example, can remove toxins like arsenic from the soil. It’s called phyto-remediation and holds lots of promise for a naturally improved environment.

Lately, there are even more discoveries being made about the healing mental and spiritual powers of plants. A study at the Human Emotions Laboratory of Rutgers University showed that giving even one flower to someone produces a true smile more frequently than any other gift.

“Our results indicate that the simple presentation of flowers, even a single flower, will release a strong and immediate behavior reflecting positive affect,” said Jeanette Haviland-Jones, the head of the study. “Given the presence of the Duchenne smile [which is considered the most genuine smile] it is possible that the flowers—either through their visual or odorous qualities—have effects on brain chemistry.”

Wow. Let’s think about that a moment. Flowers either through their beauty or their scent can possibly affect our brain chemistry. It sounds like the magic of Forget-Her-Nots, doesn’t it?

And there’s more. Exposure to plants and flowers can actually help us relax, according to Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., of Texas A & M University. “Visual exposure to plants and other nature lasting only a few minutes can foster considerable restoration from stress,” says Ulrich. Looking at plants and flowers has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are signs of stress. Other studies suggest that flowers and plants in a hospital room or access to a garden while at a hospital can help in “reducing pain medication intake and shortening hospital stays.”

So if someone you love has to be in the hospital, send him or her flowers or pick a room with a view of a garden. Hospitals across the country, including the one closet to my home, have been adding garden features to take advantage of these new findings. Across the country, both patients and hospital employees can now have easy access to healing gardens.

To summarize, the presence of blooming plants in our lives can make us both happier and healthier. I believe that on some level human beings have always known about the power of flowers. Why else would flowers be considered an essential part of almost every ceremony or ritual, from weddings to funerals? Why else would we surround our palaces and great homes with gardens? Why else would be preserve the valuable real estate of Central Park in New York City as a natural, blooming space?

Science is finally catching up to our intuition that we need many more flowers in our lives.

When someone leaves three mystery flowers outside her dorm door,Laurel thinks that maybe the Avondale School isn’t so awful after all — until her own body starts to freak out. In the middle of her English presentation on the Victorian Language of Flowers, strange words pop into her head, and her body seems to tingle and hum. Impulsively, Laurel gives the love bouquet she made to demonstrate the language to her spinster English teacher. When that teacher unexpectedly and immediately finds romance, Laurel suspects that something — something magical — is up. With her new friend, Kate, she sets out to discover the origins and breadth of her powers by experimenting on herself and others. But she can’t seem to find any living experts in the field of flower powers to guide her. And her bouquets don’t always do her bidding, especially when it comes to her own crush, Justin. Rumors about Laurel and her flowers fly across campus, and she’s soon besieged by requests from girls — both friends and enemies — who want their lives magically transformed — just in time for prom.

Read the first five chapters of Forget- Her-Nots HERE!

Each blog tour stop is offering a single virtual flower which readers can collect into a bouquet. At the end of each week, readers can submit their bouquet on Amy's site to enter themselves into a contest. The flower for today's tour stop is ROSEMARY.

Rosemary has been a symbol of love and remembrance since ancient times, often used in weddings and lain at the graves of loved ones as a token of loyalty and commemoration.

"There's rosemary; that's for remembrance. Pray, love, remember." ~Shakespeare, Hamlet


Tales of Whimsy said...

Coool post. I like the idea of flowers having power :)

Ellz said...

Fantastic post. I agree that flowers have some magical purpose and they do keep us healthier. too bad everone didn't have a green thumb.

Mary not so Contrary said...

Awesome post!! I love plants. My house is full of them. Thanks for the great post and the flower lesson!!!

Unknown said...

Just reading this left me with a Duchenne smile. There have been several times when strangers gave me flowers--times when I really needed that uplift. We should gift each other with flowers more often, I think.

Unknown said...

I just love this lady! Can't wait to read the book... mine will be here tomorrow!! Great post!

philippine flowers said...

Interesting views. Thanks for blogging about this. Wish I saw this post earlier.


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