Beat the Quarantine Blues: Travel the Natural World (Virtually)

Yes, we know its not the same thing as being there…but in the spirit of getting through this strange time, we are digging (pun intended) these virtual tours of the worlds most exquisite gardens and far-(and not so far)-flung natural habitats. We are also putting together the most ambitious travel bucket list. 

Let’s go!

    1. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew: Founded in 1840, Kew houses one of the “most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”.  
    2. Walk among the daffodils at NYBG
    3. Peep (again, pun intended) wild birds like a Great Horned Owl in Charlo, Montana, a Bald Eagles in Decora, Iowa and closer to home, an Osprey nest on the Long Island Sound in Madison, CT. 
    4. Stroll the Japanese Garden in bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Where have your virtual travels taken you? 

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Part 1

Happy Monday friends!

We are going to try to bring aspects of GBC into your home this week.  We are starting with a guest blog post written by Donna Bunte of Donna Bunte Whole Health.  Donna teaches Qigong at GBC on Friday Mornings.  Donna has been practicing Chinese medicine, acupuncture and nutrition for twenty years.  She opened her practice in 1995 in New York and moved her practice to Old Greenwich, CT where she has been helping people since 1999. 

This week, Donna is offering tips on how to manage your stress (and therefore your overall health!) in this time of great uncertainty. We are working with Donna to offer virtual qigong classes. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, enjoy the video below of Donna demonstrating qigong basics in the Montgomery Pinetum.


Your friends at GBC.

part 2: manage Stress and anxiety

Hello friends!

It has taken me awhile to collect my thoughts and adapt to life in this new normal. I hope you are well and keeping yourself and your mind engaged. As surreal as these times are, I think it is important to stay positive and use our time wisely. I don’t know about you, but there are so many projects that I have been trying to get to but never seem to have the time. Take those classes, read those books, organize those photos, learn that language! Let’s hope I don’t look back and say “what did I do all those months?” When will we ever get this amount of uninterrupted time again? Hopefully, not anytime soon but at least we can make the best of it.

While adjusting to the ever-changing status quo I am grappling with what I can do to help in these stressful times. Although I am not seeing patients in person right now and I am seeing them medicine can help.

Manage Stress and Anxiety:  One is to help with stress and anxiety by practicing qigong and meditation. For the past year I have been teaching qigong here in Greenwich. This ancient slow-moving exercise, using breathing techniques and mediation has been used for thousands of years in Asia. As a matter of fact, they have been using qigong in hospitals to help patients who are recovering from the coronavirus deal with anxiety and fear. By focusing on being present in our body and breath we can calm the nervous system, lower the heart rate and strengthen the immune system.  

In China the medical system has always used the time-tested system of herbal medicine in conjunction with western treatments but now they have been using it aggressively to help people have better outcomes with the covid-19. Many formulas boost the immune system and others fight the virus and relieve symptoms, like clearing the lungs of mucus or lowering fever, for example. They found that patients recovered faster and were less ill during their active phase. 

Part 3: Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating As for diet, I would avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods and limit dairy, alcohol and heavy meats. Cleansing is not a bad idea at this time especially since spring is traditionally the best time to cleanse. When I say cleanse, I don't necessarily mean fasting but rather a lighter, healthy diet and some detoxifying herbs to detox the liver, kidneys and intestines. In Chinese medicine spring is the time of the liver. Bitter greens are available in the spring and they can help the liver get rid of toxins which slow down all of our systems. They inhibit our immune system, slow down the digestion, and make us tired. Our immune system is 70% in our gut, after all. By eating a healthy diet with plenty of greens you will give your body a break and help it to fight off any infection that may come along. Not in all cases, but in many, it seems people who need to be hospitalized for the coronavirus are those with underlying health issues. If we can stay healthy and strong, I believe we can beat this one.

Some herbs that boost the immune system are echinacea, ashwaganda, and astragalus, for instance. Examples of herbs found in formulas against viruses and symptoms of infection are Isatis, andrographis,and scutellaria to name a few but are formulated to deal with specific presentations such as fever, mucus, cough, chills etc. Not all herbs are created equal however, so it's best to ask someone who is a trained herbalist.

Part 4 mindful practice

Gardening projects--small or large--are a great way to practice mindfulness. “Caring for your garden can be a great form of mindfulness meditation. By connecting with the earth and with the practice of gardening, you can cultivate a healthy mind and feel calm and connected. Simply planting a seed with intention, or touching soil, can be transformative. Go ahead and get a little dirty.” — Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder of Unplug Meditation. (NYT, April 2019)

Begin a Mindful Practice: Relieve stress with some sort of regular mindfulness activity, exercise, stimulate your mind, get enough sleep, and eat nourishing foods that don’t tax the body so it can do its job well to ward off illness and heal. Writing in a journal would be a very therapeutic exercise to take up now. Sometimes just putting fears and worries down on paper make them seem less scary.

So, to sum it all up, We are starting to get used to this new normal but we will be so amazed to look back on how surreal this is!

--Donna Bunte, Donna Bunte Whole Health


(P.S. Please remember you can always shop the GBC Greenhouse virtually and we will arrange, safe pick up for your purchases.  - GBC)


Posted by gbcenter130 in Chinese Medicine, Wellness, 0 comments

GBC Provides Inspiration and Second habitat for Designer Kim Caravella

Designer and habitatgreenwich owner, Kim Caravella with Eddie Ross in front of the GBC location of her shop. A percentage of sales from habitatgreenwich x GBC goes to support GBC programming and initiatives.

When entrepreneur and designer Kim Caravella met with GBC board President Meg McAuley Kaicher in early 2017 she was, to put it mildly, a busy woman. After three decades of tireless hustle and training she had established herself as a sought-after interior designer known equally for her work ethic and discerning eye. She is a mother to daughter Gabby (who was seven at the time) and married to fellow entrepreneur Randy Caravella, owner of Randy’s Wines in Cos Cob. She was also about to embark on a new project, long in the making: opening habitatgreenwich, a design concept shop and boutique in downtown Cos Cob.

Less than a year later, Caravella accepted another unexpected offer from McAuley Kaicher: to open a second retail location at the Greenwich Botanical Center.

Nevertheless, when McAuley Kaicher asked her to co-chair an upcoming family-focused fundraiser at GBC, Caravella accepted. “I must have been crazy. To be honest, I didn’t know much about GBC at that point. Meg explained to me that afternoon that GBC was seeking to refresh and reinvigorate–she referred to it as an ‘environmental oasis for community connection’ and that struck a chord. These are things that make my designer ears perk up. I’m a passionate person and when I feel something is right, I jump in with both feet. The GBC mission was very attractive to me.” That event, Frolic in the Forest, is entering its third year and is now one of Greenwich Botanical Center’s most successful fundraisers.

Kim Caravella (center), in the GBC greenhouse with fellow Frolic in the Forest Co-Chairs, Jennifer Butler (left) and Kay Sterling (right). The 3d annual Frolic in the Forest event is April 26, 2020. Stay tuned for more details!

Less than a year later, Caravella accepted another unexpected offer from McAuley Kaicher: to open a second retail location at the Greenwich Botanical Center. “Another crazy leap,” laughs Caravella, “but at that point, I had fallen in love with the GBC and made a lot of new and great friends. Randy and I are committed to supporting our community because we love where we live. We became dedicated supporters of the GBC because we recognize how valuable of a community resource it is….it truly is an oasis.” Within weeks habitatgreenwich x GBC was born, with a portion of sales donated to support GBC programming.

Watching Caravella scuttle about the GBC location of habitatgreenwich, it is apparent that her tireless energy is fueled by an ingrained belief that there is nothing she can’t do if she puts her mind to it. I watched as she crawled, climbed, hauled and reconfigured. At one point she picked up a heavy teak root bench and carried it outside. Noticing my alarmed expression, she commented, “it needs to be more weathered.” Her eyes, hands and brain are always moving trying to make everything just so.

habitatgreenwich x GBC Garden stools arranged on the GBC lawn.

The Greenwich Botanical Center location of habitatgreenwich is a perfect melding of the 63-year old organization’s revitalized mission and Caravella’s modern vision as a designer. The GBC is located within the 60-acre Montgomery Pinetum and surrounded by greenhouses, art, evergreens, woodland trails, wildflowers, a peony garden, old stone structures, sculptures, and a pond. This location is a bit of a departure from her downtown location because Caravella has taken great pains to choose merchandise that reflects its surroundings. She motions toward an abstract work by local artist Allison Meyler that evokes GBC’s must-see spring peony garden. On another shelf are a pair of mixed media pieces, Birds 1 & 2, by local Greenwich artist Melissa Rozmus, that one might purchase as an off-beat memento after taking a guided walk in the Pinetum with Director or Horticulture, Lisa Beebe. There are reclaimed wood benches, ornamental brass leaf bowls and handmade baskets. Nature is a recurrent theme, but Caravella’s choices are unexpected and modern.

“Overtime I came to recognize how I felt differently at this location and therefore chose differently.” She picks up a floral stationery set by Hudson Valley-based artist, Elizabeth Grubaugh and uses it to physically punctuate her point, “I think more about where things come from, who made them and how much energy it will take to get them here.” Grubaugh prints locally and uses recycled pages. “People visit my store after taking a horticulture class or practicing yoga upstairs. They are already inspired and feeling good. I want that vibe to continue for them in my shop.”

If the GBC has had an effect on Caravella’s aesthetic, Caravella has contributed much to the GBC’s efforts to broaden its appeal. Board President Meg McAuley Kaicher notes, “When I was looking for someone to help, Kim Caravella was at the top of my list. Kim is keen on the benefits of outdoor time and the effect it has on one’s well-being: this is evident in her design aesthetic and merchandise. She’s a tireless advocate for Cos Cob. I knew she’d be a great asset.” McAuley Kaicher points out that when she has meetings at the Center, she tries to guide them into the store. “I think habitatgreenwich x GBC exemplifies the spirit of our reinvigorated organization: modern yet enduring and inspired by the ways nature connects us as a community.”

The third annual Frolic in the Forest event is taking place on April 26, 2020 at GBC. 

Greenwich Botanical Center is located within the Montgomery Pinetum at 130 Bible Street in Cos Cob, Connecticut. The organization is dedicated to promoting horticulture, conservation and the arts through educational programs, outreach activities and special events. To learn more please visit Greenwich Botanical Center online  @GreenwichBotanicalCenter

habitatgreenwich x GBC is located within the main building at GBC. Hours for both GBC and the shop are Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm.  @habitatgreenwich

Posted by gbcenter130 in Arts, Beth Cavanaugh, People, Shop, 2 comments