Thursday, 3 May 2018

CFE Day 9: May 3rd, 2018 - UBC Botanical Garden

To start the day, we visited the UBC Botanical Garden. As many of us already know, the garden is a place where everyone can explore and learn the wonders of plants, biodiversity, and garden-based learning.

When we first entered the garden, we encountered the Ginkgo Biloba tree, also known as the "maidenhair tree." Jo briefly educated us about the tree, stating that it is the only living species of an ancient gymnosperm lineage, which dates back to the Jurassic Period about 270 million years ago. She further explains that the Ginkgo can often be found around temples, but is nearly extinct in the wild and is in desperate need of preservation and protection. The Ginkgo's extracts are valued in traditional medicine for reducing memory loss, slow aging, and Parkinson's Disease. We were very fascinated by how old the species of the tree was and its' medicinal purposes.

We then participated in an activity in which we were instructed to look and focus on an object (ex. tree, leaf) at a distance with our 'hard eyes'. We were then told to massage our eyes and look at the same object again with now our 'soft eyes'. It was an interesting experience for myself and my colleagues. We weren't able to discuss about the activity afterwards, but the activity was quite pleasant and different. We then walked into the tunnel and Susan thought we could bring in some aspects of theatre by humming together with our eyes closed. I thought it was a very fun experience and we had a lot of fun doing it as a group.

We then stopped at the Food Garden for a few minutes to look around then quickly to the Physic Garden. We spent most of our morning here, looking at the many different plants and reading each one. A lot of the plants are poisonous and most plants have a history dating back to the medieval times. Susan and Jo printed a medicinal herbs information sheet for us and we were able to understand more about the plants. Jo then provided us some 'tea time' by bringing us hot water, and we chose a herb of our choice to put into the cup. We then chose a herb of our choice and made a haiku poem, and presented it to the rest of the group. It was a lot of fun and the tea tasted great. We then visited the Rainforest Garden for about 15 minutes or so, and each of us talked about what we found interesting and how a plant or a tree etc., could relate to yoga.

We went back to the Orchard Garden around 12pm and started transplanting the tomatoes into the soil beds. It was a lot quicker than we expected, and thanks to everyone's help, we were able to finish it with perfection!

Good day :)

Anh & Chanelle


  1. Great experience! That highlights a great interconnection of the plant community and humanity: the medicinal component. It is amazing how long some of these tree species have been around. One would wonder what will be of such vegetation two hundred years from now! It is really nice that you enjoyed and also had today as a fun learning experience.

  2. Thanks Anh and Chanelle, and everybody else who participated in making our visit to the UBC Botanical Gardens memorable!

    In the event that one may want to revisit at a future time and/or share these exercises with others, here are some of the notes I prepared, inspired by the previous days’ and a variety of wonderful sources :)

    Meeting at the Gingko Tree entrance to the gardens. What do we already know about this tree? What more does the information provided here tell us?

    Practicing soft eyes. To feel what soft eyes are like, find a distant point and let your eyes focus on it as if you are searching for something. This is a long distance, hard-eyed, or hawk-eyed way. Next, take a moment to gently close your eyes. Pat them lightly with your fingers. Open them and focus on the lines in the palm of your hand. With soft eyes wander wherever you feel drawn to and encounter the garden in a sensory way. This is a soft-eyed experience where the mind may let go of judgements and experience place. Gather and continue walking. (‘The Sacred Path Companion: A Guide to Walking the Labyrinth to Heal and Transform’ by Lauren Artress, 2006, Jazmin Books).

    Soundscapes in the tunnel. Any ideas on ways we can play with soundscapes?

    Welcome to the Physick Gardens. As we enter the gardens, what do you notice about the design? Find two pieces of information, one from what’s already been written and another from your own observations, and share.

    Reading the ‘Medicinal herbs primer’ together. As a start for a life-long journey of herbal knowledge. (UBC Orchard Garden & Cultivated Learning Network, 2017).

    Finding and sketching a herb. Go to a herb-being you feel drawn to? What is it that’s speaking to you? Notice how its shape and colouring may relate with its healing qualities. Take time to be with the herb and make a sketch of an aspect of it. (‘Pathways to Healing: A guide to Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism’ by Don Ollsin, 2013)

    Creating a herbal haiku. Write a three-lined haiku or breath-sized poem made up of a short-long-short line rhythm, and share.

    Welcome to the Rainforest Gardens. Notice the diversity of plant and tree-beings within a few metres of entering the Rainforest Gardens: varieties of Salal, Saxifrage, Fawn Lilies, Wild Gingers, Huckleberries, Ferns, and even Horsetails. Wander the gardens in your own time, stopping when asked to. Connect with a plant / tree / lake being and if you feel compelled to, create and share a yoga pose emanating out of the encounter :) (‘Tree Yoga: A Workbook: Strengthen Your Personal Yoga Practice Through the Living Wisdom of Trees’ by Satya Singh and Fred Hageneder, 2007, Findhorn Press).

    Thanks for teaching me what I needed to know. I had a good time! Take care and see you soon.

  3. Wonderful to hear from Jo and Stella here too! Thanks everyone. Jo, thanks so much for sharing your notes and meditative, thoughtful exercises.