A healing space
Researcher Reshma P R’s ‘Green Shelter’ garden at the Kerala University is a green haven, where students can soothe their souls
The ‘Green Shelter’ arranged on the first floor of the botany department, at the Kariavattom campus of the Kerala University is a special place. Bright green leaves of the foliage on earthen and coir-made pots on the balcony provide a dark shade. Hand-woven bamboo stools are placed on the floor layered with white and brown pebbles, glass bottles painted are turned into holders for money plants creeping on the wall — the serene, scenic beauty of this little man-made wonder is unparalleled.
The native foliage has made the department of botany already a green paradise. Their new Viridescent Haven, aka Green Shelter, is the result of department’s PhD scholar Reshma P R’s love for green spaces. The fourth year research scholar came up with the idea of a healing garden as part of her research paper — the role of plants in eliminating indoor air pollution — with the guidance of professor Bindu R Nair.
The healing gardens are a need of the hour as the stress levels increase in our day-to-day lives, says Reshma, who started working on the garden in 2016. “The healing garden is a common concept in foreign countries, especially in hospitals, meditative centres, education institutions etc. Our country lacks such spaces. As part of my research study I found that indoor plants have the power to eliminate pollutants like formaldehyde compounds from the air and purify air and increase oxygen. I did my MPhil on landscaping and gardening. The idea was always in my mind and my guide Bindu helped me structure it with the support of scientific evidence,” adds Reshma, who completed the project two weeks ago with funds from the university.
The Viridescent Garden follows a green protocol. A door made of bamboo sticks welcomes everyone to this little heaven of 50 sqft near the department library. Plants such as spider lily, snake plants, lucky bamboo, arroweed, money plant etc are abundant on the vertical garden set on a half-cut bamboo trellis. The main attraction of the space is the small table-top fountain.
“Detach from your mobile phones and relax in this space for a minimum of half-hour. You will feel refreshed. The flowing sound of water soothes our stressed mind too,” says Bindu. It was not an easy job for Reshma to find the right objects to finish her healing garden. But the positive feedback comforts her. “We are also analysing the results with the help of the students who visit the space continuously,” says Reshma.
All elements in the garden have been scientifically proven to soothe the mind, she adds. “The space is rich with sunlight, air, water, earth and foliage. Walking barefoot on the pebbles is good for the neuro system and helps manage high blood pressure. Spending time in these kinds of spaces is good for mental well being. That said, as our campus follows green protocol, I created the garden using eco-friendly and reusable materials.
Everyone can set similar small spaces in their houses even if you have a small balcony too,” she says. Reshma plans to take it as a consultancy project after her PhD, as she is now flooded with inquiries. She says the healing gardens will be a suitable addition in hospitals in our country.