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The Healing Nature of Flowers

Shelley Sishton of Essence of Nature Flowers gives us an insight into the therapeutic side of her work as a grower, florist, and maker of flower essences.

With our world becoming increasingly chaotic, and with mental illness and stress taking hold across all age groups, the simplicity of looking at flowers and being with flowers can be overlooked as effective therapy.

In recent times, when people were forced inside by lockdown, they began to appreciate the importance of staying in touch with nature, and found themselves wanting to experience it in any way they could. Growing flowers and vegetables in a garden, window box or allotment suddenly became a vital part of everyday life for many, offering a way to refresh the spirits, and manage some of the anxieties that came with the strange ‘new normal’.

Even before the pandemic, interest in horticulture therapy, nature therapy, and gardening for health was growing in the UK. So-called “green prescriptions” are now being tested in association with the RSPB, Natural England and other partners. The restorative force within nature is being recognised.

The restorative joy of nature writ in rainbow colours at Essence of Nature Flowers.

Flowers have been regarded as sacred medicine for millennia, and they are still used in ceremonies all over the world. From births – as when Australian Aboriginals dig special birthing pits for new babies and fill them with Boab flowers; to weddings, where the rose holds the key to the heart and unconditional love; to death, where many cultures believe the energy of flowers opens the way for the soul to pass over and find the light path; to creating a sacred space for meditation in Balinese temples with lotus flowers; to blessings by Buddhist monks who make floral mandalas to represent earthly peace – flowers are revered for strengthening our connection with nature, and profoundly improving our well-being.

A flower mandala made at an Essence of Nature workshop.

Flower essences too are ancient in origin, although their modern history began in the 1920s, when they were rediscovered the Harley Street physician Dr Edward Bach. I have 28 years’ experience working personally and professionally with established flower essence brands, and have been creating my own unique English garden essences since 2003.

Things changed again 6 years ago, when I began growing my own flowers with the intention of creating a living flower essence pharmacy. I started with posies and bouquets as living flower medicine just for my clients, but this developed into larger scale floral designs for weddings, events and special occasions – each one unique, and always embracing the healing language of flower essences. Our flower farm has continued to expand into a rainbow of healing colour and wisdom, with plans evolving for healing fields of flowers on a much larger scale.

Living medicine, using the healing language of flowers.

My flower essence knowledge, combined with my love of British flowers and my study of ancient flower medicine, has led me to my practice of flower therapy. I love teaching people about essences, about the visual power of flowers to enhance wellbeing, and I have gone on to develop original therapies such as ‘Arranging Flowers with Spirit’, ‘Meditations with Flowers’ and ‘Flower Bathing’, all using the flowers we grow.

Whether I am creating essences, or farming, or providing therapy, the focus of my work is always reconnecting people with their own essence through flowers, and finding a deeper understanding of nature, through which the world becomes a better place – one flower at a time.

Just some of the essences made by Shelley from her flowers.