Rehabilitation, climate adaptation, healing herbs and reuse of plastic waste are combined in a newly renovated park in Aarhus, Denmark.
The beneficial effects of medicinal plants have been known for millennia. Now users of the rehabilitation facility MarselisborgCenter in Aarhus, Denmark, and its many visitors, get the opportunity to see, touch, smell and taste some of the herbs. The scene is a small oasis in an area of the center’s newly renovated park called “The Immersion.”
The person behind the garden is local urban garden activist Marianne Mikkelsen. To build the garden she used PVC pipe waste, which would otherwise have been sent to recycling. By reusing the pipes as plant containers, the life span of the material is extended. Sage, mint and a wide range of other medicinal herbs grow in the pipes. The pipe pieces have partly been left over from the renovation of the park, partly found at the city’s recycling sites and are, according to Marianne Mikkelsen, perfectly suitable for the purpose: “It was obvious to establish the herb garden in reused PVC pipes. PVC is made to be in contact with water and is easy to work with.”
According to Marianne Mikkelsen, the park and the herb garden can contribute to health and well-being in several ways: “It is not a coincidence that the herb garden is set up in connection with a rehabilitation center. The park invites to outdoor activities that stimulate physical as well as social needs. The plants in the herb garden speak to all the senses: the sense of touch, the sense of smell, the sense of taste, the sense of hearing and the sense of sight. By touching and smelling a furry sage leaf, the memory can be activated, which can improve rehabilitation.”
As the garden houses medicinal herbs, it also has a historical element, Marianne Mikkelsen explains: “The MarselisborgCenter is a former epidemic hospital, and in the past many plants had a medicinal function. For example, rhubarb has been used against fever and rheumatism, yarrow to stop bleeding and English plantain to relieve insect bites.”
Marianne Mikkelsen stresses that the herb garden is for everyone – the rehabilitation centre’s users, local residents and tourists. Interested parties are invited to help plant, sow, weed, water and enjoy. She hopes the garden will be used as an outdoor learning space where green, sustainable habits can be practiced.
The PVC pipe plant containers are extremely climate-saving compared to traditional terracotta pots. By reusing the pipe pieces, virgin production is avoided, and when the last plants of the year have flowered, the long-lasting plant containers can be reused elsewhere and finally recycled into new products. In Europe PVC recycling is well-established with over 6.5m tonnes recycled through VinylPlus since 2000, which has saved the climate for 13m tonnes CO2.
The climate-friendly approach to the garden fits in the overall climate vision for the renovation of the park, which in addition to being a recreational space is designed to handle increasing rainfall due to climate change.
The herb garden project is supported by the European PVC industry’s sustainable development programme VinylPlus® and PVC Information Council Denmark. You can follow the project on Facebook, Instagram and pvcreuse.farm.
More information (in Danish):