March 10, 2015 | Gardens and healing seem to go hand in hand. The color green was sacred in ancient Egypt, a representation of new vegetation and life that comes each spring. The Greeks built a temple for Aesclepius, their god of healing, in some of the earliest healing gardens. Medieval monks relied on the power of plants to heal the sick in their monasteries’ cloistered gardens.
The Donna and Senator Percy Malone Healing Garden has been in development since the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute opened its doors in December 2008. Ground was finally broken for the area Feb. 27, thanks to the contributions of some long-time supporters.
G. Richard Smith, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine and former director of the Psychiatric Research Institute, acknowledged the commitment of the “dynamic duo” of state Sen. Percy Malone of Arkadelphia and his wife, Donna, in helping the garden reach its initial stage. The natural setting will feature a fountain and several pieces of standing artwork and will allow patients to spend time in a warm and friendly outdoor setting. It is expected to be completed in late June.
“Just to be able to participate in something like this really thrills me,” said Malone, who attended the ground-breaking ceremony along with his wife. “I really want to thank all of you for what you do every day because that’s what’s going to make such a difference for all of the patients, young and old.”
Victor Jacuzzi of Little Rock, whose family contributed the artwork that will be installed in the garden, said he hoped the garden would ease the stress that comes from having a mental illness. Jacuzzi’s daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder five years before her death in 2004.
“Over the course of her dealing with this disease, we found that stress was her enemy,” said Jacuzzi, chairman of the institute’s advisory board. “As UAMS reached the final phase of building this great research facility, I thought the proposal of a healing garden was a great idea for patients to help ease the stress of dealing with their mental health disorder. And today, thanks to the generosity of Senator Malone and others, this idea becomes a reality.”