When I was studying at university, I often had the feeling that something was missing. Amid the searching for perfect lines, the functional nature of places or their outer aspect, I never found anything or anyone able to explain to me what those “strange” feelings were, beautiful or nasty, that I had whenever I went into a wood or a field, or even just when I happened to look at a solitary tree in the midst of the concrete of urban roads. Feelings that changed in nuances and force independently of the moment but rather according to what I saw. Images (and here I include also photos) that, quite apart from my mental state at that moment, managed to make me feel secure and happy or, on the contrary, agitated and uneasy. Or which catapulted me into the past amongst memories and sensations felt in past times.
Such feelings told me that there was some aspect in all these parks and gardens that I was planning that went far beyond the mechanical reading of their systems, forms, essences or their beauty. And I wondered whether others felt the same way, too. And if so, then why didn’t anyone talk about it?
Among the various texts I read, in the end I came across one of the few Italian treatments of the subject, published by Ghersi in 2007: Paesaggi terapeutici. Come conservare diversità per il ben-essere dell’uomo (Healing landscapes. How to preserve diversity for man’s well-being). I began to understand that my feelings were right and that those green spaces we often look upon as a mere decoration, a caprice for those who have already satisfied all the other needs, are instead an indispensable element for the human being. In subsequent texts I found further confirmation of the effect that contact with green areas has on our mental and physical well-being, and gradually as I expanded my researches I started to discover the processes that govern this dependence. But what was still missing was the answer to the questions: why and how does greenery have this effect on humans, and how could/should I plan things so that the place to be created will be a benefit to those who frequent it?
Also during my university course I found myself planning a garden for a reception center for the disabled. More questions cropped up. I discovered that the beneficial effect whose existence I had perceived and observed became even greater when the persons concerned were particularly vulnerable, such as those with physical handicaps, who were ill or suffering from excessive stress. And the question of how to plan became even more meaningful.
My striving to find answers to all these questions eventually caused me to bracket together under the same heading greenery, well-being and the sick. While, as results from numerous research projects, everyone benefits from being in contact with nature, its capacity to help reduce stress becomes especially important in hospitals.
Images of plants I used to see during my childhood make me always feel well immediately.
All pictures above come from a Polish website www.na-pulpit.com, which with its stunning images made me go back to my childhood.