biophilia, solastalgia and gardens

Photo by Corbyrobert - Garden of the Gods

Big words for simple ideas: ecopsychology, solastalgia, biophilia....

Recently, “solastalgia” has appeared in various places like in an instrumental track called “Solastalgia,” released by the British duo Zero 7 and it was the title of a 2008 album by Slovenian recording artist, Jukeen.

In 2010 The New York Times published a great article on this term by Daniel B. Smith (he holds the Critchlow Chair in English at the College of New Rochelle).  I took a lot of info from that article for this blog post.


Solastalgia  is a global condition affecting indigenous people and urban denizens alike.  Solastalgia is what we feel when we become disconnected from our natural environment due to its impaired state.....or when the natural environment is so changed that we lose connection to it.

Solastalgia is "A pain or discomfort caused by the present damaged state of one’s home environment".
It is an emotional suffering felt by different people in different locations as the ongoing degradation of the environment continues apace.

“Solastalgia” has been used to describe the experiences of Inuit communities coping with the effects of rising temperatures,

Bangladeshi subsistence farmers faced with changes in rainfall patterns

 and refugees returning to New Orleans after Katrina.


We do not know how to grieve for the loss of our woodlands, our meadows, our rivers. We are a people in mourning in many ways but we do not know how to heed that sadness for loss of habitat. 

 Ecopsychology -  “the relationship between environmental issues and mental health and well-being” - addresses this in detail.. Ecopsychology is taught at Oberlin College, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Wisconsin, among other institutions.

Why is this important to serenity garden lovers and designers?

Because the scientists are following our lead! We know deeply about the vital link between our well being and nature. It is our calling. And now ecopsychologists are talking it up.

They say that their field’s roots are in traditions like Buddhism, Romanticism and Transcendentalism. They use words like 'solastalgia' and 'solasphilia' and give talks and write scholarly articles on how nature makes us feel good.   
Well we know that. And our philosophical roots are Thoreau, Lao Tzu, Emerson, et al.....We know that serene outdoor spaces give rise to loving feelings, 'high vibrations' and general contentment.

A great book.....

And don't forget the wide concept of 'biophilia', a hypothesis of the great biologist E. O. Wilson, who said in 1984 that human beings have an “innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes.” AMEN to that!

Dr. Edward O. Wilson

Over the past 25 years Wilson's ideas on 'biophilia' have inspired many scientific articles, books, conferences and the new E. O.Wilson Biophilia Center in northwest Florida.

The E.O. Wilson Center's Exhibit Hall

Yes, we gardeners focus on life and revel in its exquisite forms in the green world....
Serenity gardens sing praises to Mother Nature's effect on our wellbeing in a quiet way. 

No scholarly words here...just the hum of the bees at work.
Ecopsychology is alive and well in my back yard when I am puttering there.

photo at Flikr by one2c900d



  1. My native garden is where solastalgia is put in its place! I revel in the endemophilia and moments of eutierria that it feely gives me. Same for the the vege patch and the fruit trees ... but with a lot more effort. For more and meanings, have a look at Healthearth: and Psychoterratica:

    Yours in garden soliphilia.
    Glenn Albrecht

  2. Glenn, sounds good to me....:-)


Post a Comment

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....

Popular Posts of all Time

Angelface Blue and Dark Violet Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

Getting in the 'Flow' by Gardening

No-Fail Tips for Turning Hydrangeas Blue!

Repurposed and Recycled - Creative Ideas for Garden Design

Planting Design for Dry Gardens by Olivier Filippi

The Magnificent Purslane - Edible Landscaping at its best!

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen

The Tradition of Hanami - Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan