The 70 patients of the Psychiatric Hospital from Căpâlnaş, a village located 93 kilometers east from Arad in Western Romania have 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 which invested RON 100,000 – or some EUR 22,700 – in this project.
“There is an increasing incidence of mental illness in Romania, which demands special attention for patients”, said council president Nicolae Ioţcu .
Patients also make collages using dried flowers and plants and autumnal arrangements from flowers, fruits and other natural elements, all of which are exhibited in the hospital.
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.
By Paul Sinka, guest writer