The eco-therapeutic benefits of ornamentals

Maurizio Lapponi is a tree grower, author and business consultant from Mantova, Italy. In the December 2022 FloraCulture International, he wrote about the positive effects of greenery on patients’ recovery.

Maurizio Lapponi, author of Therapeutic Terraces.

“Going green, planting trees, and building green nature into cities are hot topics in today’s environmentally focused world. Trees and plants capture carbon dioxide, play an important role in increasing biodiversity, are excellent filters for pollution, help to cool down the air and, as such, help reduce what is described as the urban heat island effect.

Research shows that greenery can also help improve physical and mental health. Have growers thought about how to use this unique selling point efficiently?

Perhaps, growers can’t quite put their finger on what it is. The presence of their trees makes them feel good. But is it because they proudly own what is often a decades-old heritage nursery with growing trees and stacks of cash? Is it really about marvelling at your own wealth like the Disney character Scrooge McDuck does when he swims in his money? Or is it because they genuinely feel nature’s healing and relaxing effect?

All the things we take for granted or presume we know enough about bore us. Because we live in an experiential era, we always look for more, we want to generate experience and emotion, and there is this constant need to feel the adrenalin flowing through your blood.

A flowering plant, a towering tree? It often seems they no longer impress us. The nurseryman should understand how to grow and gain deeper insights into what he or she produces. These products bring social, ecological, and eco-therapeutic benefits. So, we must be proud to grow plants!

With this in mind, I sought out a friend with whom I could carry out some scientific research about the effect of greenery on people. I contacted the Chief of Oncology at the Hospital of Carrara, Maurizio Cantore. His optimistic motto is ‘All right, you have cancer, but life goes on’. In support of this positive approach, he has humanised his wards by truly connecting with his patients and involving them in activities outside the illness.

One day, I saw that Maurizio’s hospital had two empty, concrete terraces overlooking the sea, and I immediately thought: we could turn them into a lush green oasis. This would allow Maurizio to study the effect greenery does have on his patients, their families, and the paramedical staff.

He immediately accepted my offer, and practically everyone on the ward lent a hand in realising the project, eventually improving the patient’s physical and mental health and even leading to economic benefits for the hospital.

More details are in the book Maurizio and I wrote recently. The book is entitled Therapeutic Terraces and was released on 20 September. It is available in Italian in all Italian bookshops or online at Gilgamesh Edizioni, The English translation is ready, and talks with an English publisher are underway.”

↑ Back to top