“To use my imagination to share the natural world and create well-being for others” is my personal mission statement. I created it in 2019 as an exercise devised by my career coach to help me determine the direction I wanted to take when I decided to leave academia. The statement had to be succinct and, because of this, creating it required a lot of thought and reiteration. The interwoven ideas contained within it speak to my vocation and encompass the rationale for my business, Pax in Natura. Here, I explain the significance of the name and its relation to my mission statement.
First, why did I give it a Latin name? Pax in Natura means “peace in nature,” and I chose to use it because as a floral designer and ancient historian/archaeologist specializing in health/medicine, gardens, and floral design, I am inspired by the Roman love of natural spaces and flowers and how they saw their mental and physical wellbeing relating directly to their environment.
Roman descriptions of the beauty and healthfulness of the outdoors are found in a variety of their literary genres, including poems, letters, medical and philosophical treatises, encyclopaedic texts, and agricultural works. For example, the Roman poet, Horace (1st BCE), rendered a picturesque and soothing scene when he wrote,
It is a delight to lie under an old holm oak, or in clinging grass; meanwhile the streams glide between their steep banks, birds twitter in the trees, springs burble as their water gushes forth, sounds that induce a pleasant sleep. Epodes 2.23-8.
Images that invoke these settings also survive in Roman art. There are scenes of mountainous landscapes, seascapes, gardens, and villa farms. Vegetal and floral motifs are omnipresent in ancient art. The archaeological remains of gardens demonstrate Roman ingenuity for creating peaceful, pleasant, and salubrious spaces that mimicked what they experienced in nature. Whilst, their flower crowns and garlands, (again described in ancient literature, depicted in art, and found in the archaeological record), indicate that flowers and greenery were desired for their beauty and significance.
My business is to teach historically inspired and sustainable floral and garden design to bring about environmental and personal wellbeing.
I do not hesitate to state that the Roman empire was far from a utopia. There was conflict, environmental destruction brought about through their mining activities, and slavery. Yet, their philosophies on life in relation to the environment are positive aspects we can learn from to think about what we can do to promote health-giving, sustainable practices today. Hence, the peaceful and healthy feelings their thoughts and creations evoke are what I aim to reproduce in my work.
Ultimately, my business is to teach historically inspired and sustainable floral and garden design to bring about environmental and personal wellbeing. One way to grow (pun intended) our appreciation of nature is to utilize natural materials in creative ways, such as floral design, in order to enjoy the positive effects it has on wellness. Working with biological materials might seem destructive due to methods of extraction and consumption (the topic of my next blog); but on the positive side, academic studies and my own observations have shown that people who work as gardeners and florists tend to be happy, healthy, calm, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. So, how does Pax in Natura help others achieve this sense of wellbeing while promoting sustainable practices at the same time?
“To use my imagination to share the natural world and create well-being for others.”
“[T]o use my imagination:” this incorporates my work as a floral designer, creator of historically inspired garden designs, and a writer. These are creative ways for me to express myself, and they effectively join together left and right brain activities. Recreations and reinterpretations of Greco-Roman designs also allow me the opportunity to bring my historical knowledge to life in beautiful ways.
“[T]o share” this work in a number of ways is essential. First and foremost, I am a teacher. I have always been passionate about sharing and discussing my subjects of expertise with students, as well as seeing how they interpret and apply ancient ideas to modern issues. Through my work, I teach historically inspired and sustainable floral and garden design, online and in person. Practically, I share sustainable floral mechanics and the beauty of working with flowers and plants which supports sustainable practices that are beneficial for the environment.
I also communicate ideas about the relationship between creativity and wellbeing through my writing. Academically, I am frustrated when I find outdated or ill-informed ideas mentioned in the public domain. Yet, I realize that as researcher it is my responsibility to share new ideas in an accessible manner to a wider audience than just my academic peers. Often academic research is not shared beyond colleagues, but so much of it should be because many ideas are exciting and challenge us to look at old issues from different perspectives.
‘[T]he natural world”: The idea behind my designs is to think about how to use locally grown and seasonal flowers and create gardens with indigenous plants suited to the local environment. I also enjoy teaching in outdoor spaces and guiding walks to forage for materials and to visit gardens.
Finally, “to create wellbeing for others": Nature and natural materials are known to make us feel healthy and happy. It is proven that people in hospitals heal faster when they have views of the outdoors, have living plants and flowers in their vicinity, or even see photos of nature in their rooms. Hence, I help to bring a sense of wellbeing to those with whom I work through the activities I offer.
I truly believe that a creative and historically inspired experience of nature will be transformative both for individual health and that of the environment. Come and find out by booking a class through my website.