Western Romanian psychiatric hospitals start using therapeutic gardening

The 70 patients of the Psychiatric Hospital from Căpâlnaş, a village located 93 kilometers east from Arad, are having a new occupation starting this week: gardening.
Marcela Nicşanu, a landscape engineer, initiated the project to help and calm the patients. She chose vivid colors and created mostly circular floral arrangements, many of them from plants that withstand cold season. “The smell of the flowers in spring will be the third important factor, besides their color and the shape of arrangements. There have clear therapeutic effects” the engineer says.
The 1 500 square meter garden includes 3 000 plants and was opened by the president of the Arad County Council, the institution who invested 100 000 lei in this project.
“There is an increasing incidence of mental illness in Romania, which demands us to give special attention to patients” council president Nicolae Ioţcu declared.
Patients are also making collages using dried flowers and plants and autumnal arrangements from flowers, fruits and other natural elements, all being exposed as part of an exhibition at the hospital.
According to the manager of the medical unit, all those involved in the project all are engaging themselves in work and they are enjoying it.
The hospital functions in a castle built at the end of the 19th century and is surrounded by a 12 hectare park.
This is the second therapeutic garden in Arad County, after the one inaugurated in June in the yard of the Mocrea Psychiatric Hospital, which was also the first in Romania.
The therapy known as Horticultural Therapy (HT) uses plants, gardens, and other aspects of nature to improve people’s social, spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. It is used in a growing number of psychiatric hospitals in Western Europe and the USA.