Sowing seeds for the Psyche

In her day job, Amy Berryman heals damaged bodies with patience, science and therapies honed by painstaking research. In her spare time, she heals psyches. With flowers.

In 20 years as an occupational therapist, Berryman has helped people recover life skills — from brushing their teeth to grocery shopping — lost to accident or injury. She said her role as occupational therapy supervisor at Craig Hospital, which is renowned for its work with patients who have suffered spinal cord and brain injury, means using her “logical brain.”

It’s her other job, as manager of the Infinite Garden at The Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery, in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, that gives Berryman a creative outlet.

“The garden is a way I can be wildly imaginative, use my hands, and nurture my own mind, body and spirit,” Berryman said. “It makes me think of the Jesuit value of cura personalis.”

Berryman earned her master’s in health services administration from Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions in 2007.

Last summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic was hurting so many people in so many ways, Berryman found herself wondering how she could help. She hit on a perfect solution: invite them to drink wine and create bouquets.

So, last August and September, Berryman and the winery invited the public — masked and socially distanced — to come, sip wine and choose their own zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers from her Infinite Garden.

“Work is stressful, life is stressful, but we just spent a couple hours cutting and arranging flowers and it felt great. Like we’re ready to tackle life. Nature is healing,” she said. Berryman is working with the winery to reprise the wine-sampling, flower-cutting events this summer.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem winery is hugely supportive of the garden, Berryman said. Their support is generous, and also benefits them: an urban oasis of blooms beckons to customers.

Berryman discovered her knack for gardening in 2009, when she started a couple of backyard garden beds. From there, things just — ahem — blossomed. Two vegetable garden beds became three, then four. She added flowers, and eventually a friend asked her to arrange her wedding flowers.

A couple years ago, her hobby had outgrown her yard and Berryman was searching for empty lots to support a burgeoning botanic life when a friend offered her the Infinite Garden space.

During her second season managing the garden, in the midst of a shutdown, quarantining world, she got to interact with people, safely. And experience first-hand the universal truth that when you make others feel better, you feel better, too. “It was a healing experience for people in the middle of such a stressful summer. And it was a good boost for me to share something so beautiful.