Five Questions for Donna Bunte, of Donna Bunte Whole Health

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 summer at GBC, Donna Bunte of Donna Bunte Whole Health is teaching a number of classes and workshops that explore the benefits of Chinese Medicine and the ways it can counteract the negative effects of living in fast-paced modern world.

For a list of Donna’s classes at GBC, click here.

Happy 20th Anniversary! Your website bio says you moved from New York City to Old Greenwich in 1999. Any differences in how people perceive and respond to Chinese medicine and holistic health between then and now? Or between patients in the city and ‘burbs?
Yes there is. Actually I started in 1996 in nyc where more and more people were open to Chinese medicine. After coming out to Greenwich I realized that people were not that familiar with the system of medicine. Now it is much more accepted, referred by doctors and covered by insurance. People often choose it first rather than as a last resort.

What is the biggest misperception people have about what you do?
Most people think acupuncture is only for pain, specifically back pain and that the needles hurt when inserted. It is very effective for such a variety of issues such as stress related problems of anxiety, insomnia, headaches, digestive disorders, women’s issues, blood pressure as well as boosting the immune system, allergies, and to stimulate the body for all kinds of healing.

What is Qigong?
Similar to tai chi, qigong is a system of energy circulation that has been in use by millions of people for at least 2,000 years. It incorporates slow moving exercises that help to move energy throughout the body along with breath work, meditation, and mindfulness. It is accessible to virtually everyone, including the very young and very old with no prior experience needed to participate.

How does Qigong help practitioners cope with stress?
What I have found over the years treating clients is that stress is the number one cause of illness and pain in our modern, fast-paced life. The western medical practice of giving people medication to cover up symptoms is really just a bandaid. Stress reduction techniques can truly cure many of the manifestations of stress, and qigong–a great stress reliever–is becoming more and more popular at wellness centers, yoga studios and community centers across the US. Qigong works by circulating one’s own energy (or Qi) through the slow movements and the use of breath work which removes tightnesses and blockages in all systems of the body. It also stimulates the body’s production of endorphins, powerful hormones that create a sense of well-being, calmness and invigoration at the same time.

GBC is a place for people to connect or reconnect with nature. Being surrounded by the 60 plus acres of the Pinetum make it a very peaceful environment. Can you make a connection between the practice of qigong and human connection with nature?

Oh yes! We are made of the same materials as the world around us and are truly one with the universe. Being in nature is the best way to experience the powerful effects of qigong. We can absorb the energy around us feeling the air, wind, sun, sights and smells and thus feel connected and one with the universe.

Posted by gbcenter130 in 5 Questions, Chinese Medicine, Wellness, 0 comments

Q & A with Helena Svedin, Positive Psychology Coach and Yoga teacher

Sign up for Helena’s life-changing summer series at GBC: LIfe Coaching in Nature. These sessions are one-on-one and therefore space is limited.

Helena was born and raised in Sweden and received her Master’s Degree of Laws from the University of Stockholm and worked in the banking and insurance industry until she moved abroad with her family. Helena now lives in Greenwich and works as a certified Positive Psychology Coach and Yoga teacher.

In addition to teaching yoga at GBC (her yoga classes will resume in the Fall), this summer Helena will offer a Walk and Talk: Life Coaching in Nature with Helena Svedin series. These one-on-one sessions with Helena are sure to be life empowering!

In Sweden what  does it mean “be healthy”? 
To live a balanced life. That would mean working between 30 – 40 hours a week. That leaves enough time to take care of myself, children, aging parents and friends. Spending time in nature, cooking, share meals and enjoying other meaningful activities.  It would also mean taking at least five weeks of vacation. Four of those would be taken consecutively to allow the mind, body and spirit to really recover and to feel energized and excited to get back to work. Being able to walk or bike to a workplace that listens to, invests in and values their employees. Having choices. 

How is the aging process different in Sweden vs. America?
I find Sweden definitely has something to learn from the United States when it comes to aging. I think there is more age discrimination in Sweden. As I’m getting older I find that I have more opportunities here than…I would have if I lived in Sweden.

It’s more common (here) to have a number of different careers during your lifetime. I also see an openness and encouragement to try new sports and activities at an older age…it’s ok to be a beginner again. I find the US to be a competitive society but it can also be very caring and appreciative. Just imagine what we could accomplish here if we combined these strengths and applied them to move areas of our lives! 

“I’ve always been interested in wellness and I grew up in a family that spent a lot of time and resources on outdoor activities, shared meals and weeks on the water.”

Why is it important to place a life coaching session in nature?
For a life coaching session to be truly successful we need to connect to our inner guide. My job as a coach is to help the client get there. My experience is that gentle movement in nature supports that process. We are very fortunate that we have all this access to beautiful nature and water in Greenwich.

My hope is that more people will take advantage of that. It would benefit all of us. Just imagine if we all connected to and followed our inner guide more – life would be better and we would most likely have more patience and compassion with each other.

You have a background in Law and Finance. Why did you make the leap from those fields into yoga and wellness?
I’ve always been interested in wellness and I grew up in a family that spent a lot of time and resources on outdoor activities, shared meals and weeks on the water.

My family was not rich. My mother started as a hairdresser and my father as a photographer. They did take some risks, were successful and made some money…but time was always more important than money. I remember spending at least two weeks over christmas at our winter house skiing and playing in the snow. During the summer we would move to our summer house go out sailing for up to five weeks. 

I enjoyed working in the field of law and finance, especially the educational aspect of it, but as my own family grew and when we moved abroad, it was just not possible for both parents to focus on demanding careers outside of the home, without a great loss in wellness. I felt I had learnt enough from the field of asset management and was now ready to focus on raising my children and enjoy the adventure of living abroad.

“Stop. Focus on your breathing. Feel.”

Once my children were grown…I had the opportunity to try a new career that allowed me to get back to my roots and what really mattered to me – how to truly enjoy this life! I find it exciting to learn and explore life coaching through the lenses of yoga and positive psychology. To get the opportunity to study and share this science after 50+ years of living on this earth is just awesome. I’m very lucky.

If you could recommend one new healthy and impactful habit that anyone could take up starting today, what would it be?

Stop. Focus on your breathing. Feel.

GBC is a place for people to connect or reconnect with nature. Being surrounded by the 60 plus acres of the Pinetum make it a very peaceful environment. Can you make a connection between the practice of yoga and movement and how humans connection with nature?

GBC reminds me of my childhood. Open and exciting space to explore. Kind, supportive and knowledgeable people if I need them. Choices of trails. Sense of freedom, joy and possibilities. Conveniently located right here – in the heart of Greenwich. The convenience shelter when needed…and bathrooms!

Posted by gbcenter130 in 5 Questions, Life Coaching, Wellness, 2 comments

GBC Mother’s Day Gift Guide


Let Greenwich Botanical Center be your Mother’s Day destination! Stop by or give us a call: we can help you pick out the perfect (last minute) gift for Mom or that special Mom-like person in your life.

Here are some gift ideas that might inspire you:

  1. GBC Membership and Grandiflora Garden Tour ticket: Give Mom a membership to GBC and fill her year with friends, nature and learning. Our upcoming (June 7 & 8) Grandiflora Garden tour is the highlight of our event calendar and offers rare access to high-end private estates over the course of two summer afternoons. For tickets click here
  2. Shop our habitatgreenwich pop-up shop: Located in our lobby, the gift shop is chock-full of gifts big and small. Pictured here, a Mer Sea scented soy candle. 20% of your purchase supports programming at GBC. Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm or by appointment. 
  3. Original Art in the GBC Gallery:  Give the gift of original, local art. Currently showing in our gallery are works by Art Society of Old Greenwich, including (pictured above) Grass Colors 6 and Green Radiance by local photographer Julie DiaBiase. 
  4. Shop GBC Greenhouse: Located in the Horticulture Building, the greenhouse is teeming with pollinator plants, deer resistant flowers and plants, organic & heirloom vegetables, and GBC-propagated Geraniums. Hours Monday, Wednesday, Thursday Friday 10:00 – 4:00. Closed Tuesdays. Or by appointment. 

Visit our calendar:  This weekend (May 11) we are hosting a Mother’s Day Craft Workshop & Tea.  We are constantly added new events and classes. 

Happy Mother’s Day, 

xoxo-Everyone at GBC

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Happy Earth Day: Let’s Compost!

The happy faces of GBC composting: Margery Scotti, VP Horticulture; Kathy Kling Horticulture volunteer and Beth Cavanaugh Marketing and Sales Director.

Happy Earth Day! It should not come as a surprise that we here at Greenwich Botanical Center consider every day to be earth day. In that spirit, this blog will offer easy and practical tips that could be put to use today and every day thereafter. Working together as a community we have the power to impact the health and future of our planet.

This week we are talking composting with Director of Horticulture, Lisa Beebe and Greenhouse Volunteer, Kathy Kling. According to Lisa, “Composting will build good soil for your garden and is one of the most effective and rewarding ways to reduce waste.”

Composting quickly becomes an obsession habit and according Kathy, “Once you get into the habit…throwing out lettuce leaves is akin to tossing garbage out of your car window as you drive. It just becomes a major faux pas.” Don’t be surprised if you start sneaking table scraps into your purse at dinner parties hosted by non-composting friends. We won’t judge.

Horticulture volunteer Kathy Kling’s 4-step DIY composting routine.

Kathy insists that no expensive or fancy new equipment is necessary to get started. “Simply keep a bucket by your sink. Fill it up with compostable waste as you clear your kitchen. Keep another 10-15 gallon animal proof trash bin right outside your kitchen door. You should be able to easily lift and carry this bin when it’s full of your compostable waste.

In your yard construct a simple 3 foot x 3 foot compost bin using welded wire fencing and four posts. Kathy suggests lining the inside with common concrete blocks to keep the compost from seeping out, but this is not necessary. Composting material can be ready to use as early as one month, depending on what you are composting and what method you choose to follow.

Use your compost to fill in holes in your garden or as a mulch to keep weeds down. The organic matter and nutrients feed your plants and keep gardening costs to a minimum.

“…compost is nutrient rich and will eliminate the need for synthetics fertilizers in your garden, which is helpful for the planet and your wallet.”

Lisa Beebe, GBC Director of Horticulture

For Lisa Beebe, one of compostings main benefits, besides reduced landfill waste, is that your “…compost is nutrient rich and will eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers in your garden, which is helpful for the planet and your wallet.” When you consider a bag of compost can cost up to $50, over time your composting pays for itself. This means no wasteful packaging, travel time or added expense of store bought product. Oh, and a beautiful, healthy garden.

Keep us posted. Have you started composting recently? Ask us for help. Send us tips. Post your composting pictures to social media using #GBC1957. We’d love to hear from you and share your story with our community.

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