Enter the flower shop. After a particularly hard day, I see a glass window reading “New Leaf Flores.” I am greeted with vibrant oranges and twigs. I walk in and the owners offer me a glass of red wine. Their shop quickly becomes my mental health salvation. Every Friday, after walking the white walls of the ward, I walk to their flower shop and spend the evening taking thorns off red roses.
Psychiatric hospitals have no flowers. Visitors do not bring them. They usually bring toothpaste, deodorant and underwear. I ask my supervisor if I can bring leftover flowers from the shop. “Glass vases,” he shakes his head. I find plastic vases and sneak in de-thorned pink roses. A patient asks, “Can I give one to my girl?” The next day, the flowers and plastic vases vanish.
So many items cannot come onto a locked psychiatric ward. Administration looks at everything as a possible weapon of self or mass destruction. No curtains. No jewelry. No art. No glass. And, I learn, no flowers, no plants, no nature.
Read more. [Image: Anna Schuleit, John Gray]