SoCal woman's mobile plant nursery offers healing through gardening

TORRANCE, Calif. (KABC) -- At the beginning of the pandemic, Barbara Lawson converted a van into a mobile plant nursery, allowing her to host what she calls "Meet Me in the Dirt" parties. It's a form of counseling through plants.

"We plant, we talk about life through the art of gardening," Lawson said. "Imagine therapy while playing in the dirt. So it's typically filled with tears, with laughter, reflection, change."

The idea sparked after her own mother died and she experienced her own healing. Grief was complicated, but she was able to navigate through it in the yard with her plants.

"When I was in therapy I would have my homework, and I would come right home, get in the dirt, and that's where I reacquainted myself with my mother," Lawson said. "I met me in the dirt and that's where it really started."

Now, on top of selling plants and teaching people how to care for them, she also teaches people to care for themselves through therapeutic services, customized memorial gardens and "In the Dirt" parties.

"Typically they come up with a name for their plant baby that has a lot of meaning," Lawson said. "That's typically the part where the tears come because it really jogs their memory about a person or something that they've lost."

"I named my plant Ms. Flow because she is like overflowing, and this is my word for the year, but also it allowed me to connect with nature," Toushonta Hogan said. "I was drawn to tears with this party. It was amazing."

"I lost my mom 16 years ago, but it still kind of feels like yesterday, so just connecting and knowing that these women are also going through that same similarity, helps us connect a little more as well," said Vanessa Punche.

Showing that through a little tender loving care, new life is possible.

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