Sanctuary: Creating personal therapeutic space

by Don Bingham

Life takes many turns, and for Michelle Boone, her professional journey started as a certified public accountant, financial analyst and part-time instructor at the University of Central Arkansas. She, along with Brett Battle, is co-owner of a garden and nursery center and landscaping service.

With recent health issues, Michelle had to take a leave of absence from the day-to-day operations of the planting and cultivating world, and this gave her time to do some soul searching and consideration of the various aspects she loved about the greenhouse and growing process. To regain her strength, Michelle discovered her “happy place” was far more important to her and necessary in her healing process than anticipated; this led to a deeper joy of “being outside, without being outside,” and new creative ideas began to develop.  

Michelle Boone enjoys spending time in the greenhouse. (Mike Kemp photo)

To begin with, Michelle took all the older plant shelves in disrepair, built new ones and repurposed the old wood to make walls. She added 30-foot sections of theme plants from old shelving, pieces of tin from local flea markets, suspended antique windows and wagon wheels and created peaceful respites here and there, throughout the greenhouse. Hanging canopies were suspended throughout the large greenhouse, and rotten woods, of which were to be disposed, became focal points for water fountains and plant gardens in large containers.

One of her favorite areas that she created was her “sanctuary” – personal space for creativity and therapeutic encouragement, often called “the potting shed.” This area is for relaxing, decompressing and serves as a retreat when necessary. At the end of the day, when most would be headed home, Michelle retreats to create, grow from seedlings and make sure the recent “nothing new” look is continued in this garden oasis, situated in the middle of the hustle and rush of everyday life in West Conway.

The Plant Outlet serves the community with many resources, having a location on each side of Hogan Lane. The jewel, however, may be the 50 acres of greenhouses and growing areas, complete with a watering pond, where most all of the blooming plants are cultivated. This area thrives on the outskirts of West Conway and requires Michelle’s attention as well.

On my recent visit to The Plant Outlet, I was immediately aware of the music playing, the large rustic chandelier hanging with contemporary water features, 15-foot tin walls and plants of all kinds to welcome the shopper, inviting me to look down every aisle for hidden surprises! I also noticed that many of the creations were not priced, which caused me to know the purpose was not just for retail, but indeed a place to wander and be refreshed in the world of horticulture, balancing the “what a buy, what a buy” with inspiration for the best way to use the “mother-in-law’s tongue” plant to its best advantage!

There are many types of medicinal opportunities and showcases of creative outlets. Michelle Boone has brought new life to one of our favorite outlets and shown anew that “everything old can be new again!”  It is a delight to wander through this sanctuary garden on Hogan Lane in Conway.

Don Bingham
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