Nurturing Plants, Nurturing the Human Spirit

January 2016


The recent Tu Bshvat (The New Year of the Trees) celebrations marked the beginning of the agricultural year according to the Talmud. But, this is more than a holiday for nature and an occasion for planting saJanuary 2016-6s also an opportunity to raise awareness of the need to preserve a green living environment, rich in vegetation and the contribution it makes to our quality of life.


Increasing evidence from scientific studies highlights the positive impact of vegetation on our lives. Green surroundings – natural or man-made – have been found to reduce anger and stress, improve cognitive and learning abilities, concentration and memory, to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, improve the functioning of the immune system…and more. So, it’s not surprising that healing through gardening has becoming an accepted therapeutic model for treating a range of physical, cognitive and emotional problems. Gardening therapy, which first blossomed in the United States as a tool in the therapy and rehabilitation of soldiers injured in World War Two, matches various gardening-related activities to a range of physical and psychological conditions, with the goal of improving the patients’ sense of well-being.


– The physical activity involved in nurturing plants contributes to the development and improvement of coordination and motor skills.


– Caring for plants and involvement with the environment gives patients a sense of responsibility and provides them with an objective, bolstering their confidence and self-image and improving their mood.


– Nurturing plants helps patients to become more aware of their surroundings and their ability to overcome obstacles.


– Gardening therapy stimulates patients intellectually through learning about subjects such as plant anatomy and physiology.


– Gardening therapy encourages group interaction, promoting cooperation, responsibility-taking and leadership development.


– Additional projects in the framework of therapeutic gardening, such as selling plants and taking nature field trips, further empower the experience and fortify its results.


– These projects help raise the patients’ self of self-worth, while assisting them in dealing with frustration and loss.


– Gardening therapy can also be a source of in-service, pre-employment training for the handicapped and mentally ill, assisting them in earning a living and contributing to their independence.



The Council for a Beautiful Israel has been among the pioneers in applying this therapeutic gardening model throughout Israel. Using funds raised through donations, CBI has already initiated nearly 20 gardening therapy greenhouses, located in medical centers and related institutions throughout Israel.


Establishing a therapeutic greenhouse involves dedicated architectural planning, suitable construction methods, creating activity spaces, developing suitable infrastructures (such as climate control and irrigation), and installing accessories suited to the needs of the patients and their gardening therapists. The Council for a Beautiful Israel supervises the entire process, from initiation through the beginning of gardening activities.


We have gathered numerous, touching success stories, demonstrating the tremendous progress of patients using therapeutic greenhouses. Those who have experienced this unique approach often return voluntarily to their gardens, invigorated and motivated to take part in a range of activities. The calming atmosphere and the sight of plants growing have made this project a source of pride for all those involved.