Flowers and Plants: More Than Just Beautiful


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Flowers and Plants: More Than Just Beautiful

  1. 1. Flowers and Plants – more than just beautiful…
  2. 2. Flowers and Plants – more than just beautiful…AIPHInternational Association of Horticultural Producers
  3. 3. Contents: pageIntroduction 3Flowers and plants in history 4Discovering new plants 7Beneficial properties of plants 8 No life on earth without plants 8 Plants in modern cities 10 Plants around the house 12 Plants for the landscape 14 Traffic and plants 16 Cleaning properties of plants 17 Beneficial impacts of indoor plants 19The healing power of flowers and plants 21 Psychological impact of plants 21 The special effects of gardening 22 Horticultural therapy 23Cultural and social significance of flowers and plants 25 Cultural meaning 25 Flowers and art 26 Plants as a factor of social stability 27 Educational functions of flowers and plants 29 Plant lovers and their societies 30 Exhibitions of flowers and plants 31Final remarks 32
  4. 4. Introduction Flowers and plants are beauti- The basis for this brochure wasful. Everybody feels that. Every- a presentation at the 56th AIPHbody is familiar with flowers and Congress in September 2004 inplants; everybody is accustomed Ghent, Belgium. Promoting theto them in daily life. But who idea that flowers and plants im-knows what they really mean to prove the quality of life is one ofus? What do we know about the the objectives of AIPH; initiativesbenefits flowers and plants have like “Plants for People”, the “Greenfor the eco-system, and about the City”, “Entente Florale”, and “Citiescontribution they make to in Bloom” do the same. Ornamental horticulture pro-mankind? To many people, flowers duces all kinds of plants – treesand plants seem like luxury and shrubs, perennials and annu-goods. But we depend on them in als, cut flowers and pot plants. Wean elementary way. How can this wish that this booklet may inspirebe? What is so special about flow- you to even more enjoy the art ofers and plants? nature through its beauty and This brochure tries to answer colour.some of these questions. An out-line of the historical backgroundof gardens, as well as people’s in-terest in plants and flowers will be Dr. Doeke Fabergiven. The main part deals with President of AIPHplant properties and the benefits International Association ofderiving from that as well as the Horticultural Producerscultural and social significance offlowers and plants. June 2006 The message of this brochure isthat decision makers must recon-sider their priorities in favour ofgreenery and plants. People oughtto realise the benefits of flowersand plants - and how much theycontribute to society at large. Forthat reason, AIPH - the Internation-al Association of Horticultural Pro-ducers – is happy to share itsknowledge of the positive effectsthat flowers and plants have ondaily life. 3
  5. 5. Flowers and plants in history Owning a garden, or at least Creation: “And out of the ground having access to one, seems to made the Lord God to grow every fulfil a basic need. A brief look in- tree that is pleasant to the sight, to history shows that gardens are and good for food; the tree of life part and parcel of man´s cultural also in the midst of the garden, development. and the tree of knowledge of good According to Christian belief, and evil.” the first thing God did after creat- So gardens, nice to look at, ing man was to plant a garden. In were invented by God himself so Genesis 2:8, it says: “And the Lord that man would have trees to give God planted a garden eastward in him shade as well as delicious Eden; and there he put man whom fruit. he had formed.” The Garden of Eden, also called Paradise, is pre- But what exactly is a cisely described in the story of garden? According to the Bible, it is a place that is pleasant for people to be in. The words Paradise and Garden have similar roots. Paradise is de- rived from the Old Persian word pairidaeza, meaning ‘an area sur- rounded by a wall’ or ‘a tree gar- den’. Garden stems from an Indo- European word meaning ‘an enclo- sure protected against the sur- rounding area’ – the wilderness. The same applies to the Latin word hortus. The history of gardens is a wide field which can barely be touched in this brochure. Garden culture Left: “God planted a garden in Eden” Right: The famous Zen gardens of the 16th century are admired worldwide4
  6. 6. started when people began to set- dens of the 16th century are ad-tle. As nomads, they were roam- mired worldwide. In the Europeaning around with their cattle. But monasteries of the 6th century,when they started to work the soil monks started growing medicinalin order to grow fruit, they had to plants, herbs and vegetables. Butprotect it with a fence. In doing so also the aristocracy in their castlesthey created a garden. So horticul- had small gardens where theyture is actually older than agricul- spent their leisure time. In theture since everything started from 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in Eu-a garden. rope, there was quite a big move- In Upper Egypt they already had ment of creating fantastic gar-gardens 3.000 years before Christ. dens. Many famous baroque andAlso the Chinese had gardens rococo gardens are still being2.000 years before Christ. Excava- maintained, admired and visitedtions of Pompeii tell us about Ro- by the public. In England towardsman gardens. The Japanese start- the end of absolutism and duringed having gardens at about 500 the first steps towards democracy,after Christ. The famous Zen gar- the idea of landscape gardens 5
  7. 7. took shape, finding its adepts all over the world. Today, gardens and parks bor- row from history, using elements like topiary from Roman times, herbaceous borders from 19th century English gardens or ideas from the medieval hortus con- clusus (walled garden). Also, a kind of exchange in garden tastes is going on between the conti- nents. Thus, Japanese gardens with their purism enjoy growing popularity in Europe, while flower- ing plants, perennials, and herba- ceous borders are becoming the craze in Japan. The same ex- change of ideas we see in floristry, with Europeans practising Ikebana and the Japanese visiting Europe in order to study the different styles of flower bouquets. Here, concerning plant varieties, too, we witness a kind of globalisation – with breeders in Asia, America and Europe quickly sharing novelties. Left: Pavilion in a Renaissance Garden Above: Element of a traditional Chinese Garden Right: Doctors and then botanists went abroad as plant hunters, looking for new plants. Sir Joseph Banks and Captain Cook landed in Australia6
  8. 8. Discovering new plants In the 18th Century, botany (i.e. maximus”, which means “mediumthe science of plants) became an sized oriental daffodil with yellowindependent branch of scientific chalice and strong scent.”research. Before that time, only In the 18th century, Carl von Lin-medicine was dealing with plants, né created his own new system ofsince nature was man’s best and plant nomenclature. He boiled itonly pharmacy. Doctors had to be down to only genera and species,plant experts, too. They used of all plus the cultivar’s name. In thiskinds of medicinal plants for cur- system, the daffodil is now calleding people. At first the doctors, Narcissus tacetta ‘Minnow’. Due toand later the botanists, went its striking clarity, Linné’s newabroad as plant scouts, hunting for nomenclature became standard allnew plants. They went all over the over the world and has been inworld, but mainly to Africa, North use up to now.and South America, and Asia, look- Working with these new namesing for unknown plants and bring- made it much easier to communi-ing them back to Europe. Alexan- cate with each other all over theder von Humboldt, Franz von world. No wonder, then, that evenSieboldt, Sir Joseph Banks, Engel- today, plant hunters are still on thebert Kaempfer, David Douglas, move – no longer in undiscoveredJoseph Hooker were famous plant territories, true, but now roaminghunters, just to name a few. the whole world; for there is still a As the knowledge of new plants huge amount of wild plants –quickly increased, it became neces- which can serve for cross-breedingsary to find a precise way of nam- with known plants, endowinging them. Up to the 18th century, them with new qualities. Even inplant names confined themselves botanical gardens or through col-more or less to Latin definitions leagues from other countries,like “Narzissus polyanthus oriental- plant hunters discover noveltiesis calice medio luteus odoratus for markets at home or abroad. 7
  9. 9. Beneficial properties of plants No life on earth without plants Most people have forgotten live on plants. Even complex food what they learnt in school: that, chains originate in grasses, without plants, there would be no leaves, fruit or wood. life on earth. No living beings – neither peo- Only plants can, with the help ple nor animals or even plants – of chlorophyll, collect the sun‘s can exist without breathing. They energy as well as hold it and even need oxygen. But only plants have store it – transforming it into sug- the ability to produce oxygen. ar through the process of photo- During the process of photosyn- synthesis. It is thanks to this ca- thesis, they take in carbon dioxide pacity that single celled organisms CO2 and water H2O and change it could evolve into complex plants, into carbon-hydrate CH2O, in or- now serving as energy providers der to build their structures. The themselves. Without plants, there remaining oxygen O2 is the basis would be no food stuffs on earth. for life on earth. Every plant, down We all – men as well as animals – to the pot plants in our home, gen- A graph of Dr. Keeling’s famous curve of increasing CO2 concentration. The little squiggles in the curve show the annual fluctuations caused by vegetation8
  10. 10. Every tree in our streets reduces carbon dioxideerates oxygen. But for the amount carbon dioxide into the air. Ourwe need, we have to rely on the output in carbon dioxide is as gi-plants in the landscape, in the gantic as our energy consumption.forests, and especially in the sea. Due to this, carbon dioxide has Without plants, there would be won the bad reputation of a “glob-no primary energies. Wood, coal, al warmer”, because the more CO2peat, mineral oil and gas – they all rises into the atmosphere, thederive from plant matter, even if, more our climate warms up.during their millions of years of In the Kyoto agreement, nationsstorage time in the ground, they have committed themselves to re-may have undergone great trans- ducing their output of CO2 by sav-formation. Fire, which was mas- ing energy. But the reduction oftered by man in the course of his CO2 output is not only a matter ofcultural development, depends on responsible use of energy. Alsothe plants’ capacity for producing plants can help – through theirand storing carbon-hydrates. The growth. Every green area asprocess of burning is the reverse, against desert land, every refor-as it were, of the process of photo- estion, every garden, every tree insynthesis. The oxygen is con- our streets reduces carbon dioxide.sumed, while the carbon dioxide Saving forests and rain forests,locked up in the plant is released wood- and grasslands is importantagain. This is why every car drive, – not only in order to keep animalevery coal-fired power plant, and plant species alive but also toevery lighting of the gas stove and keep CO2 inside the plants.every aeroplane take-off blows 9
  11. 11. Plants in modern cities Every day, about 200.000 people ground is sealed with concrete worldwide migrate from the coun- and asphalt, all moisture ex- tryside to the cities. This is why the change with naturally grown soil – United Nations have dedicated the and thereby the absorption of rain World Environment Day 2005 to water – is prevented. This water, “Green Cities”. More than 50 of the which otherwise would seep down world’s largest cities committed to the water table, is being divert- themselves to “build an ecological- ed via canal systems, thus depriv- ly sustainable, economically dy- ing the water cycle. namic and socially equitable future Not only waste materials such for our urban citizens.” The agree- as exhaust fumes from cars and ments call for action aimed at put- heating systems sully the city air ting cities on a path to greener, but also massive dust due to dry cleaner, and healthier environ- atmosphere. Therefore, a blanket ments for their current residents as of smog settles over the city, well as the estimated 1 million peo- keeping the air from circulating. ple moving into cities each week. This situation puts a considerable City climate is determined by stress on city dwellers – which can stone and concrete. Both materials be significantly reduced by parks have a high capacity for conduct- and trees, green aisles, streets, ing and storing heat. That’s why and roofs. city temperatures are about 5o C Vegetation functions like a higher than elsewhere. Equally, buffer between direct solar irradia- city air is considerably drier. If the tion and streets, roofs, and walls. If10
  12. 12. the sunlight is kept out by foliage, binds an average of about 100 kgall stone and concrete surfaces of dust per year. In Frankfurt/Ger-heat up noticeably less, and a con- many, 11.490 dust particles persiderable part of the energy goes cubic meter were measured in ainto photosynthesis. At the same treeless street – as against 3.830time, the warming of the leaf sur- particles in a tree-lined street, infaces stimulates the water conduc- otherwise equal conditions. Thetion from the root to the leaf. The latter air, then, considerably re-leaf volatilizes moisture, and evap- duces irritation and stress for theoration has a cooling effect. All of respiratory system.which results in the fact that tem- Apart from local improvementsperatures in tree shade are princi- in climate and air quality, the citypally lower than in building shade, climate as such can be improved,conditions being otherwise equal. too. Green aisles leading out to Air moisture is increased by the the countryside are conducive to aevaporation from leaf surfaces. A better air exchange with the near-beech tree one hundred years old by surroundings. The glasshousehas 1.600 square meters of leaf effect over the city will be muchsurface. Air moisture is also in- less massive.creased by the evaporation from A diverse scene of trees andthe ground below, where not only bushes also reduces noise. Whilethe tree but also bushes and smooth surfaces directly reflectherbaceous plants are rooted, thus sound waves, the nimble, un-adding to the well-being of man. A steady leaf surfaces break and di-lot of dust attaches itself to leaf vert sound waves, muffling thesurfaces. A single grown-up tree noise. 11
  13. 13. Plants around the house A house with a facade covered is common with the other roof in vines and a green roof strikes types mentioned above. During us as beautiful. Yet its “green fur” winter, on the other hand, temper- also has a direct influence on the atures are much milder under a microclimate, the water house- green roof, while under the other hold, and the ecology. roof types, temperatures of –20o C Temperatures underneath a are not uncommon. This makes green flat roof are more balanced. life under a green roof much more While underneath a pebbled roof pleasant. Energy costs are low- the temperature can easily climb ered, and the CO2 output is re- to over 50o C, and under black bi- duced. The same effect is pro- tumen foil even up to 90o C, un- duced by walls covered with derneath a green roof with about climbing plants. 15 cm of soil and vegetation, it Moreover, a roof or a wall with a hardly exceeds 20o C to 25o C. This “green fur” is not nearly as suscep- is not only because of the cooling tible to repairs. While bare flat effect of the plants’ evaporation roofs must, at the worst, put up and their absorption of sun ener- with a temperature range of up to gy. It is also so because earth is a 100o C a year, the range for a bad heat conductor. Consequently, green roof is only about 25o. In there is no heat congestion, which other words, there is less strain on12
  14. 14. the roof insulation. The life span of such a roof is extended by about 60%. A greened wall is also better protected against rainfall. Green roofs have a high capaci- ty for absorbing and storing rain water. The release of surplus wa- ter is considerably delayed. The faster the conventional flat or pointed roofs are being replaced by green roofs, the more munici- pal sewage systems can reduceAbove: Even a shed for dustbins their dimensions. That’s why socan be green many municipalities in Germany and other countries are in favourLeft: Houses with a façade of greening house roofs.covered in vines strikes us as Apart from all these advan-beautiful. tages, we should not underrate the aesthetic quality of greenBelow: 3.000 square meters of roofs and walls – let alone theirgreen roof on an industrial significance as a habitat for birdsbuilding and insects. 13
  15. 15. Plants for the landscape Can you imagine a beautiful – not only for their beauty, but al- landscape without plants? Impos- so for breaking the wind, for a sible! Agriculture with its fields favourable microclimate, for pre- and meadows plays an important venting erosion and for offering role in shaping our landscape. But birds and other wildlife a habitat a rich landscape also presupposes and refuge. trees and shrubs, woods and Forest is the best protection hedges. In the ‘70s, agricultural- against erosion through rain and ists proposed, for efficiency rea- wind. Wherever a forest was cut sons, to clear away trees and down, completely laying bare the hedges in order to make space for top soil, all fertility was lost. In bigger machines so as to increase very rainy regions like the tropics, their work output. Trees and erosion is destroying the best soil, hedges were considered obsta- turning the ground into washed- cles. Nowadays this has changed. out skeleton soils, soon to end up We now know that we do need as deserts. In the moderate zones, trees and shrubs in the landscape arable soils and gardens have14
  16. 16. been successfully preserved bycreating plant wind breaks. Theirprotection is optimal, as they al-low the wind to pass throughwhile slowing it down at the sametime. Impenetrable walls, on theother hand, force air currents tocircumvent them, even accelerat-ing their speed. Slopes are even more exposedto erosion than flat plains; and thebest means to forestall this is toplant the slopes. What mattersmost here is to bind loosely con-nected layers of soil with roots,which also prevent soil beingwashed away by rain water orsubterranean water currents. De-pending on the situation, erosioncan already be prevented by mat-ted surfaces of lawn grasses, or byplanting fast growing pioneerplants such as willow, robinia andalder (Alnus glutinosa) the roots ofwhich penetrate deeper. Mean-while, slow growing kinds such asash and oak can gradually take ontheir task. This method is similarto riparian repair. Here, too, amesh of live roots creates an elas-tic barrier to the onslaught ofwaves, protecting the soil behind.Left: Fields and meadows play animportant role in shaping ourlandscapeAbove: Hedges serve as a wind-break in the open landscapeRight: A mesh of live roots createsan elastic barrier against thewaves 15
  17. 17. Traffic and plants Mobility is a very important as- pect of modern society. We need an efficient traffic system in order to meet people’s needs. We build more and more streets, highways and railway lines. Plants can play an important role in counteracting the negative impact of our traffic systems on our landscape. Along streets and highways, plants can serve as protection for our eyes from blinding lights, or as noise Above: Even railway stations can buffers and wind-breaks. They be embellished with flowers even function as crash barriers. Especially the wild rosebush (Rosa multiflora) makes a good natural crash barrier. Tree lined roads are Below: Trees on parking lots keep also a valuable element in the the temperature in the cars down landscape. They also provide and lower the risk of accidents16
  18. 18. shade, reduce street noise and opened beforehand and the AC hasserve as a wind-break. The same been put on. It takes five minutesapplies of course for tree lined for the air-conditioning to lower thestreets inside towns. inside temperature from 60o C to a Most people see trees along bearable 30o C, and another fiveroads and on parking lots as a mere minutes to bring it down to 25o C: aembellishment. A survey by Bra- lot of time indeed in which heathe/Bernatzky/Beck on parking lots stress can accelerate the heartwith and without trees, however, beat, resulting in dizziness and di-shows that they do much more. If minished reaction capacity. A studythe sunlight is allowed to shine on driving under such conditions,straight on to cars, the temperature carried out by the ADAC (Generalinside can quickly rise by over German Automobile Club), docu-20o C. If car owners start driving ments a 20 % accident increase. Asuch a car, they get into heat high risk potential – that can bestress, even if doors have been avoided by parking in tree shade.Cleaning properties of plants Procuring clean drinking waterfor every human being on earth,keeping our surface and under-ground waters clean, plus the pu-rification of sewage water, areamong the big challenges of ourtime. Plants can play a decisiverole here. Swamp and water plantshave a considerable natural clean-ing capacity that we can put to usein plant-based municipal water fil-ter plants, in turning sewagewaste into earth, in the renatural-ization and restoration ofriverbeds, in the seepage of sur-face water, and last but not least,in swimming ponds. In Europe, mostly bulrush, yel-low iris and various reeds andrushes are being used in this con-text. Similar plants are available inall other climate zones and re- Yellow Iris is not only beautiful butgions of the earth. When con- has a considerable natural clean-structing a purification plant, filter ing capacity 17
  19. 19. beds are planted out with them Besides using the rootzone treat- and the contaminated water chan- ment of wastewater only cost a nelled through them several third of the conventional sewage- times, underneath the bed sur- works. But even aesthetically and face. The bacteria nesting in their ecologically, plant filtering simply roots draw all contaminating parti- makes more sense. They don’t cles from the water, turning them stick out as obtrusive technical into food for their own growth. constructions, but easily blend in In this way, not only organic with their surrounding landscape. substances, nitrates and phos- Little is known as yet about the phates are being eliminated, but capacity of plants and their root also dangerous germs. Even in bacteria for decontaminating soil winter, when the plants above are as well. We do know, however, dormant, their roots and bacteria that plants also can absorb soil are active enough for a sufficient contaminators such as oil and cleaning job. Studies in Europe heavy metals, integrating them in- and USA prove that rootzone treat- to their metabolism. But in this re- ment of sewage is as effective as spect, more research is urgently any conventional sewage-works. needed. Swimming ponds are kept clean by plants and do not need chemicals18
  20. 20. Beneficial impacts of indoor plants Flowers and plants enhance thequality of life also inside our build-ings. And this applies to all kindsof buildings: private houses,apartments, offices, hotels orshopping centres. On average, wespend 20 hours per day indoors.Nowadays building materials andfurniture are rarely drawn frompurely natural resources. Normallythey are made of, or treated with,synthetic materials which in mostcases fill the air we are breathingwith volatile chemicals. Formalde-hyde, xylene, benzene, phenoland nicotine are some of them.They are emitted from flooring,chipboards, gloss paint, plasticbags, glues or tobacco. In the 1980’s Dr. Bill C. Wolver- NASA-Researcher Dr. Bill Wolvertonton, a researcher at NASA, foundout that indoor plants effectivelyreduce the level of harmful chemi- being and health. Particularly dur-cals in homes and offices. More re- ing the winter months, however,search on this subject was done in when the air is being dried byEurope which confirmed Wolver- heating systems, most people liveton´s findings that plants have and work in spaces with only 30 %the potential to reduce the level of to 40 % relative air humidity. Burn-harmful chemicals in the air. Thus, ing, reddened eyes, taut skin, irri-a Chlorophytum comosum weigh- tation in nose and throat are theing 300 g decontaminates a space consequences. Resistance to bac-of 50 cubic meters of 0.1 ppm teria and virus attacks decreases.formaldehyde within one and a Cold, bronchitis, conjunctivitishalf hours. Other plants with an abound. Here, bringing in indooractive metabolism like Ficus ben- plants has proved an effectivejamina and Epipremnum aureum countermeasure. Thanks to theirproduced similar decontamination continual evaporation, they enrichresults. the air with biologically cleaned No less important is the fact moisture, as it were. Technical airthat plants can improve the level humidifiers, on the other hand,of air humidity: 50 % to 70 % air hu- not only consume more energy: ifmidity is optimal for human well- not properly tended, they turn in- 19
  21. 21. breath, or skin irritations – went down by 52 %. Absenteeism due to illness decreased from 17 % to 6 %. 92 % of all employees were con- vinced that the indoor vegetation had positive effects. In another example she asked customers in a Norwegian shop- ping-centre after its conversion in- to a “green” place: 70 % were convinced that the to hotbeds for infectious germs. 3 shopping-centre had a better to 6 major plants suffice for rais- atmosphere ing the moisture in a space of 30 26 % said it looked more square (i.e. 90 cubic) meters to the beautiful, more attractive required 50 %. than before As a rule, the bigger, more vig- 10 % felt the air was better orous and fast growing a plant is, The frequency of visits in- the greater its capacity is for clean- creased by about 50 %. ing and humidifying the air. Plants with a very slow metabolism, like Green shopping-centres – better cacti – that are adjusted to dry- atmosphere and more attractive ness – are not nearly as helpful as, e.g., the fast growing and big- leafed Sparmannia africana or Schefflera. Many plants, however, have not yet been assessed for their decontamination potential. Our knowledge about plant prop- erties concerning cleaning and im- proving the air is still very scanty. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about their positive influence on human health. Tove Fjeld, a researcher from Norway, has studied the effect of “green” offices on the health of those working in them. One half of the rooms remained un- changed, while plants were in- stalled in the other half. In the rooms with plants, hitherto typical diseases of employees – like colds, influenza, headache, short20
  22. 22. The healing power of flowers and plantsPsychological impact of plants Prof. Roger S. Ulrich, A & M Uni- symptoms like a higher bloodversity of Texas, architect and clin- pressure, tensed-up muscles andical psychologist, has for several increased sensitivity of the skin.years been studying the impact of Other scientists confirmed Ul-nature elements on the mental rich’s findings. In one such report,and physical well-being of man. two groups of prison inmatesThe results of his work: Looking at were compared. Those with a viewgreenery and plants leads to sig- from their cells on to a natural sur-nificant stress reduction in almost rounding fell ill significantly lessno time. often than those looking at prison For instance, according to one walls through their windows. This,of his studies, freshly operated pa- too, underlines the positive effecttients who could look into green- of plants on man’s psyche.ery were recuperating on average Greenery leads to stress reduc-three quarters of a day sooner tion, is the undisputable conclu-than patients who were looking at sion of these and further studies.a wall. On average those looking Looking at natural greenery has aat plants were getting up sooner, relaxing effect, not only in the ac-needed less strong painkillers and tual stress phase but also in thecomplained less about little post- regeneration phase following anyoperational complications. Labora- stress situation. This means thattory results of 120 persons tested difficult situations are experiencedshowed that even a five minute as less burdensome and are over-exposure to a natural scene or come faster if plants that calm thesimulation of one reduced stress soul are in sight. 21
  23. 23. The special effects of gardening Instinctively many people are The garden gives people the using the garden to relax and to possibility to be creative, to reduce stress. What are the rea- make things on their own. They sons for this? Why is a garden so are not bossed around or or- special? dered to do their jobs along the There seem to be several rea- normal guidelines. sons for it. And there is the satisfaction and The natural rhythms of a gar- pride in growing things. den, of plants – their growing This is the reason why the Chinese and blooming – work as a coun- say in their proverb: terpart against stress, hectic, the flood of information and the “If you want to be happy for an pressure of the competition hour, get drunk. which burden so many people If you want to be happy for in our modern societies. three days, get married. There is silence and peace in If you want to be happy for the garden. eight days, kill a pig and give a The work in a garden, the work feast. with plants is quite different But if you want to be happy all from the type of work many your life, make yourself a gar- people have to do in their job. den.”22
  24. 24. In this garden in Southern Germany horticultural therapy is applied toyoung people with psychological and psycho-social problemsHorticultural therapy Horticultural therapy makes use with plants and animals – becameof the positive effects of flowers, calm, less aggressive and lostplants and gardens on body and their fears. Their senseless, bor-soul in order to cure ill people or ing, unstructured life took on ato make their living circumstances meaning. They experienced suc-better. Horticultural therapy is a cess through their own hands.very wide field and it is actually an Recognising this, doctors startedumbrella word for all those differ- to use working in gardens andent medical indications and appli- fields as a therapy. Working thera-cations. py they called what was the first The roots of horticultural thera- use of horticultural date back to the 19th Century, With the discovery of anti-de-when huge asylums for mentally pressants the situation changed.ill people were built. Because of Only a pill was necessary to keepthe high costs the asylums were patients calm. The low efficiencyplanned to produce their own of their work in gardens and fieldsfood so patients worked in the made no sense any more. But infruit and vegetable gardens and time patients and their relativesthe fields. Here doctors noticed started to complain about the sidethat patients working – especially effects of the psychopharmaca, 23
  25. 25. that changed the personality and How plants are used and which made them feel like living behind plants are used, depends on the glass. This is why in the ‘60’s the special needs of the patients for value of horticultural therapy was whom the garden is planned. rediscovered in the USA. Again Most important for horticultural hospitals for psychic or mentally therapy are: disabled people started to let them work in gardens. In the ‘70’s a first course of study „Horticultur- the calming and relaxing ef- al therapy“ was offered at the fects of plants Kansas State University. Today it the natural rhythm of the takes four years of study to be- plants, which is a counter- come a horticultural therapist. part to daily stress and From the USA horticultural ther- makes people patient apy came back to Europe and to work with living organ- started to move towards Asia. Sin- isms, that follow their own, gle projects like hospitals, homes unchangeable rules for elderly people and workshops the colours, aromas, tex- for handicapped people use horti- tures, sounds and even the cultural therapy very successfully. tastes of plants, that tackle But the public and politicians do all senses not really take notice of these the effort of coordination in projects. In spite of this, horticul- working with plants on mus- tural therapy has developed a lot cles, care and attention in the last years. the huge variety of different We note the application of horti- applications making it possi- cultural therapy in following cases: ble to suit the abilities of every patient and offer them the chance to experience psychological and psychoso- success cial disorder the normality of the garden addictions in contrast to the sometimes dementia frightening atmosphere of a rehabilitation after accidents clinic or a caring institution. and strokes rheumatic diseases geriatric and orthopaedic re- habilitation motorial disorder disorder of perception apallic syndrome (coma) curative education blindness and deaf blindness24
  26. 26. Cultural and social significance offlowers and plantsCultural meaning So far little research has been In nearly every society arounddone regarding the social and cul- the world they are an integral parttural functions of flowers and of rituals from birth to death. It isplants. We know, however, from therefore all the more astonishing,the myths of all kinds of peoples how little is understood aboutthat from very early on, plants their significance in celebratingwere said to have special powers. and grieving. Researchers foundPlants nourish, warm, quench the that flowers are an important partthirst, and alleviate complaints. of the bereavement process as aYet they can also make ill, cause source of comfort and warmth andmischief and have demonic prop- to help deal with grief. Their func-erties. They harbour strength, tions in brightening up the som-toughness, the capacity to resist bre environment and providing aand to assimilate. They disappear conversational diversion also wereunder the earth and reappear. highly appreciated. The primaryThey endure the worst frosts with- reasons for sending flowers are toout any harm. All this has inspired comfort survivors and show re-men to endow them with a soul, spect for the put them on a par with gods The message of some flowers isand spirits. They were convinced understood equally around thethat some of the magical powerwas passed on to anybody whowas adorned or honoured with theflower or plant in question, secret-ly mixed into their food or hiddenin their clothes. In this natural religion lies theroot of all plant symbolism that tothis day motivates people world-wide to make presents of flowers,or decorate with flowers or usethem in religious ceremonies.Plants become carriers and harbin-gers of wishes, longings andhopes. They accompany the smallgestures of friendship and affec- In nearly every society all aroundtion, the central feasts and holi- the world flowers are an integraldays, but most of all the decisive part of rituals from birth tolife dates. death. 25
  27. 27. world, like the red rose, symboliz- autumn and awareness of death. ing love and eroticism. Others sig- Only due to the increase of vari- nify all sorts of feelings, like the eties and year-round production chysanthemum, which in China is has it gained a more positive im- considered a symbol of long life, age. As shown in these two exam- whereas in Japan it is the emper- ples, functions of flowers and or’s flower and symbolizes loyalty plants depend on the specific soci- to the master, and in Europe it was ety and culture, on their values for a long time the flower of late and customs. Flowers and art Art also tells us of the close heart of Suleiman the Great with connection between man and his song of the rose and the plants. Poetry and literature, from nightingale. But also in folksong the Song of Solomon to Goethe or and children’s verse the flowers of James Joyce, flowers, plants and the yearly cycle abound. They give gardens play a central role. The fa- cause to play and dance. mous poem on the chrysanthe- Plant paintings are as numer- mum by the Chinese poet Tao ous. From Japanese ink drawings Yuanming was written in the 3rd to the murals of Pompei to Monet century after Christ. Around 1560, and Andy Warhol, flowers and the Osmanli poet Fasli touched the plants populate our works of art. Many of the oriental carpets weave plants, blossoms and vines and even have been interpreted as gar- dens that could be taken along as a reminder of things alive into the most inhospitable regions. Porce- lain painting is a chapter in itself. Flower and plant motives decorate Chinese vases thousands of years old, as well as the tiles of the Top- kapi Palace in Istanbul or the prod- ucts of the Royal Danish Porcelain manufacture. Plates, cups, vases, boxes and bowls all over the world were decorated with roses and water lilies, iris, poppies, for- get-me-not and many other flow- ers. The eye was to take pleasure Flower and plant motives often in them even if the natural cycle of decorate porcelain seasons wouldn’t allow it.26
  28. 28. Plants as a factor of social stability In modern cities many people soon as plants move into suchhave to live far from a natural en- neighbourhoods, these develop-vironment. Does it mean anything ments however can be them? If one compares the The slum gardens of the once no-costs of flats and houses it be- torious New York Bronx are a fa-comes clear that their prices in- mous example. In the early ‘70s,crease when they are surrounded the first of these gardens devel-City neighbourhoods with a green environment have fewer social problemsby gardens and greenery. Living oped on rubble fields, roofs andvegetation and gardens obviously back yards. They worked like aare considered valuable. Whoever signal against discouragement,can afford it chooses not to live in lethargy, and indifference. Thesea grey, stony environment. That is garden projects were for the firstfelt to be boring and anti-life. time bringing the neighbourhood City neighbourhoods without together. Out of chaos arose veg-greenery often turn into social etable gardens, flower beds andproblem areas with poverty, van- green oases used as playgroundsdalism, and a high crime rate. As and meeting points. These gar- 27
  29. 29. dens became a signal for survival, creative open air workshops – places, where a new sense of re- sponsibility for one‘s living sur- roundings was coming to light. Similar paths were trodden in the Russian city of Danilov, where a devastated park in the city cen- ter was restored by a group of young people out of work. Not on- ly vandalism stopped here. Else- where in the city greenery was perceived with new eyes – people started to appreciate it again. Working in these gardens is a Gardens are also helpful for good antidote to apathy and de- refugees and migrants to find root pression. Their contact with na- again. In various German cities, ture helps them to slowly get over so-called „international gardens“ grief and traumas, and also breaks offer refugees from a variety of down their isolation. The garden cultural backgrounds the opportu- and the preoccupation with plants nity to plant, tend and harvest. offer opportunities for cross-cul- tural contacts. People exchange experiences and support each oth- er, and of course also celebrate to- gether. In general one can say that parks and gardens are important places for social interaction, for events and activities. Parks and greenery bring a friendly and peaceful atmosphere to a town and are places for communication and recreation, incorporate play- grounds for children, and are an invitation to tourists. Above: For refugees and migrants working in a garden is a good antidote to apathy and depression Below: It makes children proud to have grown a nice plant and builds up self-confidence28
  30. 30. Educational functions of flowersand plants Flowers and plants should be treated; in this way, you can expe-more integrated in the upbringing rience the consequences of yourand education of children. Dealing own doing. Looking at and obser-with plants teaches children al- vation reveal the dynamics of na-ready at a very early age to care ture, e.g. the larvae of a lady bugand to take responsibility for a liv- suddenly cleaning up the blackflying being. It teaches them about on the tips of new sprouts. Yournature and the environment so own doing leads to changes, butthey understand how necessary it not everything is within your pow-is to protect them. It helps to buildup their self-confidence. It makesthem proud to have grown a niceplant and it improves their skills.Some plants in their home, a littleplace in the garden, projects inKindergarten and schools and aschool garden will help to accom-plish this. Gardens for children, particular-ly now in the computer age, canhelp young people to shift fromthe head to the hand. Gardens con-vey practical experience instead oftheory. In this, concrete learning-by-doing processes are only oneaspect. Directly experiencing na-ture is at least as important. Plantsfeel warm and cold, smooth andrough, soft and hard. They smell,are fragrant or stink. They demandaim-oriented activity and teach or-ganizing work. Planning your ownbeds stimulate your imaginationand creativity and produce their re- Gardens can help young people toality check. shift from the head to the hand Not the grown-ups but theplants demand responsible behav- er, is the subtle message. Thus,iour. If watered rightly, they stand children gain a more realistic ideastiffly erect, if their watering is for- of their surroundings and are be-gotten, they turn limp. Plants react ing helped to appreciate the realityimmediately to how they are being of their life in a new way. 29
  31. 31. Plant lovers and their societies The great variety of plants as Also in other countries garden- well as their beauty and unique- ing was no longer a subject re- ness inspired man very early on to served only for the nobility. Like collect them. Whereas at first, only the RHS it was discovered that hor- the well-to-do could afford the ticulture and gardening enrich hobby of plant collecting, soon al- people’s lives, that it is worth so commoners were infected by bringing the personal and social the passion for collecting. It did benefits of gardens and gardening not take long for them to band to- to a diverse audience of all ages, gether in order to share their infor- to help people share a passion for mation and experience, as well as plants, to encourage excellence in admire each others‘ exploits, and horticulture in private and public also to encourage others to find spaces, to help create healthy, sus- an interest in garden and plants. tainable communities and support The Royal Horticultural Society long term environmental improve- (RHS) established in London in ments. Our modern societies are 1804 was one of the first – maybe discovering again how important the first – dedicated to advancing flowers and plants are for the well horticulture and the promotion of being of the people. gardening. Besides the societies for garden- ing in general, associations of30
  32. 32. plant lovers arose to exchange ing groups and plantsman‘s soci-knowledge about their special eties, taken as a whole, constituteplants. For many of their members a strong, stabilizing element inthey are an essential means for our society. Politically speaking,communication, social contact however, they are usually not giv-and encounter. All of these garden- en credit as such.Exhibitions of flowers and plants Exhibitions are one of the mostimportant initiatives on the part ofthese garden and plant societies.Anybody successfully collectingplants and bringing them to grow,flower and bear fruit, will want topresent their success to others.Such private shows soon becameso popular that they had to extendtheir framework. Almost two hun-dred years ago, societies such asthe RHS, the „Societé d‘Agricultureet de Botanique de Gand (Agricul-tural and botanical society ofGhent)“ or the „Verein zurFörderung des Gartenbaues in denKöniglich Preussischen Staaten Above: AIPH coordinates interna-(Society for furthering gardening tional horticultural exhibitionsin the Royal Prussian States)“ start-ed organizing flower and plant ex- Left: Perennials are an importanthibitions. What started as short- group of plants for plant loversterm show in halls and exhibitiongrounds, soon extended to openair shows lasting up to half a year. Former military bases became Soon it was realized that these recreation parks, like Magde-open air shows were an excellent burg/Germany in 1999 and Pots-means of creating new parks and dam/Germany in 2001. New citiesgreen landscapes. Thus, garden were given their green structureshows became an instrument of through garden shows, as 1992 ingreen politics. With their help, Zoetermeer/Netherlands. The AIPHhuge disaffected industrial areas (International Association of Horti-were transformed into green land- cultural Producers) coordinatesscapes, such as the Liverpool and recognizes international horti-South Docks/Great Britain in 1984. cultural exhibitions worldwide. 31
  33. 33. Final remarks Considering all these aspects be influenced by information, pro- one has to ask if flowers and motion and marketing. But it is plants really get the attention they not only the private consumer deserve in our societies? How can who makes decisions about buy- you measure their significance in ing flowers and plants, as well as comparison with other fields like building or improving a garden. music, theatre, sports, museums Politicians of communities and or arts? One could of course com- other state bodies are always ea- pare the turnovers of these differ- ger to explain that they would like ent branches. One could also look to spend more money on trees, at the media coverage these sec- shrubs and other plants, on parks tors get – in newspapers and mag- and green spaces – inside cities, azines, in literature or on TV. Or along streets and roads, and in the one could add up the competitive open countryside. But that they do time people spend on these sub- not have enough money for it. Or jects. We do not know of any such there are, as they put it, other pri- analyses. Some degree of research orities. Priorities must change in in this field seems to be urgently favour of greenery and plants. needed. Politicians have to realize the ben- In a free market oriented econo- efits of flowers and plants – and my people decide according to what they contribute to the mem- their preferences. Preferences can bers of society at large.32
  34. 34. Photo Acknowledgements:BGM Düsseldorf page 13 BCMA 28 T, 29Die grüne Stadt 12, 20 TGrünes Presse Portal 11, 20 T, 28 T, 29Helga Panten Title, 5, 6 B + T, 9, 10, 11, 13 T, 15 B + T, 17, 18, 20 B, 21, 22, 26, 30, 31, 32Plants for People 19Peter Ruhnke 14, 16 B + T, 23, 25, 27, 28 BEditor: AIPH International Association of Horticultural Producers Louis Pasteurlaan 6, P.O. Box 280, 2700 AG ZOETERMEER (NL) Fon: 31-79-347 07 07, Fax: 31-79-347 04 05 E-Mail: , Website: www.aiph.orgAuthors andLayout: Helga Panten, Peter Ruhnke, Bonn/GermanyTranslation: Ethel Rae Perkins, Cologne/GermanyPrinted: Köllen Druck+Verlag GmbH, Bonn/GermanyFirst Printing – September 2005Second Printing – December 2006All rights reserved. No part of this brochure may be used or reproduced inany manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of briefquotations embodied in articles and reviews