Bloom Through the Dirt

Finding peace, healing, and resilience in nature.

Written by: Madeline Driban, Marketing & Communications Manager

We all look forward to the change of seasons—the day we walk out the door and are greeted by the warm sun on our faces, the melodies of songbirds, the vibrant greens, sunny yellows, and bright reds of Spring in full bloom.

Each year, we are reminded that even the coldest, darkest times are answered with opportunities for regrowth and resilience. As every flower must grow through dirt before it blooms, so too do we overcome our obstacles, reaching towards the light to finally emerge anew, growing ever stronger. It’s really a beautiful cycle, demonstrating the equal importance of having times to embrace challenges, sit in dormancy, and flourish vibrantly.

It’s a fine balance we all must manage. Even throughout the warmer months, curated gardens and natural spaces benefit from the occasional rainy and overcast day, gaining respite from the sun’s harsh rays. Similarly, we can each find ways to nourish ourselves through joyful moments of brightness and those of quiet solitude in the shade.

Perhaps it is ironic that we can cultivate such experiences from either end of this spectrum all within the beauty of nature itself—a delicious barbecue celebration with friends, a quiet hike through the park with your dog, getting your hands dirty in the garden with your children, or listening to the rain’s pitter-patter from the shelter of your patio.

Research and science have confirmed the very real health benefits of nature and how it can reduce feelings of stress, anger, and fear; it not only makes us feel better emotionally, but improves our physical well-being by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension—it may even reduce mortality. A 2019 study in Scientific Reports published findings stating that spending at least 2 hours immersed in natured each week is associated with good health and emotional well-being.

“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being,” says Lisa Nisbet, PhD, a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who studies connectedness to nature. “You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”

These numerous positive effects of nature were not lost on leaders at JFS Delaware when deciding how to utilize the outdoor space beside the organization’s Wilmington office.

“We recognized the benefit of creating a serene environment, blending the healing elements of nature with the promotion of well-being, education, and social responsibility,” shared Dory Zatuchni, JFS Delaware’s former Executive Director of 20 years, for whom the garden was named. “So, we transformed the small, ½ acre, relatively barren property into a verdant space that would become a respite for clients, staff, and community members alike.”

Six years after seeds were first planted, the Dory Zatuchni Village Garden is a thriving therapeutic space. With thoughtful features for its many audiences, the garden is used by seniors and behavioral health clients of JFS, young students from the neighboring preschool, and other visitors of the campus—an oasis for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to enjoy connection and community in nature.

“Our goal was simply to create a lush respite for all, to generate a sense of welcome and comfort,” said Zatuchni. “Today, it is much more . . . the ambling path, blooming flower beds, shade-giving pergola, and chessboard tabletops provide opportunities for visitors of all kinds to engage in therapeutic healing, structured activities, casual socializing, and peaceful solitude.”



The Dory Zatuchni Village Garden is open for all to visit and enjoy.

For those in need of therapeutic counseling and support, get started with JFS’ online intake form.