What Therapeutic Garden Do You Admire?
A QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF THE AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL THERAPY ASSOCIATION VOLUME 41 | NUMBER 2
In Your Words
What Therapeutic Garden Do You Admire?
Compiled by Kun Hyang Lee, HTR and Patty Cassidy, HTR
Contributors: Jack Carman, Leah Diehl, Hoichi Kurisu, Susan Rodiek, Connie Roy Fisher
Reprint permission has been given by the American Horticultural Therapy Association
A therapeutic garden is a space that provides a profusion of plants and design elements intended to improve the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual well-being of the garden users. How these gardens are designed and used is open to interpretation, although therapeutic garden characteristics were developed by the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA, 1995). Several leaders in the field of therapeutic garden design were asked what therapeutic garden they admired.
Susan Rodiek, Ph.D., NCARB, EDAC
Fellow, Center for Health Systems & Design, Associate Professor in Architecture, Texas A&M University
Warrior and Family Support Center Healing Garden
I recently discovered an exceptional therapeutic garden near San Antonio, Texas, at the Brooke Army Medical Center, “Warriors and Families Support Center” (designed by Quatrefoil, Portland, OR). What surprised me most was the mixture of native and conventional plant materials in soft, natural groupings to create a rich variety of multi-layered effects — sometimes appearing cultivated, and sometimes feeling like wild nature. This created a fascinating experience that changed at every vantage point along the walkways, revealing a wide array of flowers, fruits (wild and cultivated), butterflies, birds and bird nests. The garden also used an innovative combination of trees, shrubs, tall flowers, hanging vines, and trellises to create semi-transparent screening between outdoor sitting areas and nearby walkways, allowing them to be closely spaced in a relatively small area. The dedicated “healing garden” was surrounded by fitness trails and exercise stations set in the native landscape, with occasional small open pavilions having comfortable cushioned seating, ceiling fans, and lighting. The final surprise was a separate therapeutic “combat zone” — a large mound of rough ground studded with cacti, yucca, and gravel trails, where rehabilitating veterans could practice stealth exercises and re-experience landscape conditions similar to where they had been wounded. The garden was funded by Returning Heroes Home. Photo: B. Yang
Jack Carman, FASLA, RLA
Designer of therapeutic gardens and landscapes – nationwide
The Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden
The role of public gardens as sanctuaries where individuals can restore themselves both mentally and physically is becoming increasingly important. The Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden, an 11,000 square foot garden, is just such a setting. It is located on the east side of the National Museum of Natural History at 9th Street between Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, DC. The garden is comprised of plants that support the life cycles of eastern United States butterflies.
This garden is significant in many ways. While it has been designed to attract butterflies, it is also an educational opportunity for people, young and old, to learn more about butterflies. Just as important, the garden offers respite for countless office workers and tourists who just need a breath of nature. As Roger Ulrich has stated, “nature is a positive distraction” and this garden is a sanctuary in a busy urban environment. This garden is a wonderful example of how gardens can be used in public settings for restoration and respite. Photo: J. Carman
Connie Roy-Fisher, RLA, ASLA, LEED AP
Designer of over 14 healing gardens including the Jacqueline Fiske Garden of Hope, Fl.
Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center Garden
These two concrete planters for tomatoes, built by the Boy Scouts, have always inspired me. From these two planters, Alee Karpf, HTR, CTRS built amazing programs that have benefited many veterans. They have become centers of pride and places to socialize, have encouraged plant sales to build awnings and buy garden features, and inspired grants for greenhouses where plants are grown and taken to those who can’t venture outside. If you visit on the right day, you can experience the amazing fragrances produced from cooking basil and tomato sauce, humanizing an instutional facility that many now call home. Photo: C. Roy Fisher
Elizabeth R. M. Diehl, RLA, HTM
Her most recently designed therapeutic garden – Gainesville VA Domiciliary Honor Center Gardens
The Howard Ulfelder, MD Healing Garden
The garden I would like to suggest is the Howard Ulfelder Healing Garden at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care in Boston. It was built in 2005 and designed by the partnership of Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. (architects) and Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc. (landscape architects).
This is a beautiful garden that is expansive in terms of its view because of its location on an eighth floor rooftop, but it also has an intimate feeling because, at 6300 sf, the garden itself is not very large. The plantings and teak and granite furnishings are natural and beautiful, and along with the trees and small reflecting pool, create a calm and serene environment. Because of its rooftop location the views are stunning and include the Charles River and daily sunsets. One of the things I find most powerful about this space is that its location and setting create a strong sense of prospect and refuge – two very important aspects in healing design. The setting also conveys the strength and beauty of nature, of which we, as humans, are one important but small part. I think that feeling – that we are part of something larger than ourselves – can be a comforting experience in stressful times.
Hoichi Kurisu, ASLA
Landscape designer specializing in healing and Japanese garden designs
Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital Healing Garden
Therapeutic gardens as a term is often overused. As far as I am concerned, a therapeutic garden does not yet truly exist. I believe a therapeutic garden has to contribute to human beings in such a way as to elevate your mind and to make it so you forget yourself and your past, and realize at that moment your oneness with nature. This takes balance, composure, and textures on top of the five senses. In other words, the element that affects the inner sense is not physical, it has to be mental. From our work, the healing garden at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital in Lebanon, Oregon is the closest to serving this purpose, and even that is not 100% a therapeutic garden.
- American Horticultural Therapy Association (1995). Therapeutic Gardens Characteristics. Retrieved December 12, 2012 from http://ahta.org/sites/default/files/attached_document/TherapeuticGardenChracteristic_0.pdf
- Kun Hyang Lee, HTR (AHTA) and HTM from Asia Pacific Association of Therapeutic Horticulture, develops therapeutic horticulture programs and works with different populations in South Korea. She finished her HT internship at Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon.
- Patty Cassidy, MA, HTR is on the national AHTA board of directors and practices therapeutic horticulture with seniors in Portland, Oregon.
Maintaining your garden and landscape
Now that it is spring – it’s time to take a look at your garden to see all that is growing and blooming. What needs to be pruned, are there any areas in need of attention, how does everything look after the winter months? Regular maintenance of the garden and landscape is vital to the health and well-being of the garden – and the people who enjoy them. Any areas around the residence should be inspected frequently. As a landscape matures, it needs attention to keep it looking as good or better than the first day it was installed.
Walking through the garden will reveal problems. Litter, injured and/or dead plants, broken furniture, and other garden elements in need attention should be taken care of – immediately. If the garden appears neglected, it reflects on the community as a whole. There are also health and safety issues. A few of the areas to consider include the following:
Pruning shrubs – Electric hedge trimming must be banned from all gardens! Only hand pruners are to be used. Plants should be allowed to grow in their natural state and not turned into unnatural shapes such as tabletops, hockey pucks and bowling balls. Also, knowing when to prune is important so you don’t cut off all of the flowers. Find a person who knows how to prune correctly!
Tree care (Arboriculture) – Visual inspection of mature trees is very important. This will tell you if you have broken limbs or branches that need to be removed. Look for die back on branches. Low branches should be trimmed so people are not hit when walking under the trees. A certified tree arborist needs to be consulted for regular maintenance of shade and evergreen trees.
Irrigation – If you have an automatic irrigation system – you need to check to make sure all of the heads are functioning and hitting the intended areas. Make sure you have rain sensors to turn off the system when it is not needed. Check the watering schedule so you are not overwatering or watering too frequently. Leaking pipes and spray heads also waste water.
Walks – Power wash the hard surface walking paths regularly. Some communities with high traffic power wash sidewalks daily. Food stains, gum and other unwanted elements ruin the appearance of a walking path.
Lighting – Low voltage lights should be checked regularly to replace dead bulbs and reposition light fixtures. Regular 110 voltage lights on buildings should also be inspected and cleaned also.
Furniture – Are tables, chairs, benches, umbrellas and other furniture all in excellent condition? Any broken furniture should either be repaired immediately or removed to be repaired off-site and then returned.
Mulching – You may not need to mulch every year. If you have added mulch on a regular basis, you may only need to scratch up the existing mulch to make it look fresh, or, at most, add a thin top dressing. A common practice today is to create ‘volcanoes’ around trees and other plants.
Most important is to create a maintenance schedule with weekly checklists of the above mentioned items. More detailed gardens may require additional inspections, for example, ponds, water features and other garden items. Maintaining the garden and landscape insures that the gardens look their best and that they are safe for everyone to use. We need to help them look their best for everyone to enjoy.Read more
Memorial Garden in Tucson, AZ
Instinctively we know that the nature accepts us for who we are as residents of this planet. It does not judge us for what we wear or for the type of car we drive. Special garden settings can help us heal at our own pace and in our own unique way. In a garden people can come together to understand the difficult things that happen in life and are not easily explained or understood.
Involvement in a garden can help us heal. This is a story that we hear time and again. The garden created after the shootings in Tucson in 2011 is one of those stories. The story on NPR (Jan. 6th) highlights how we can turn to nature for respite and answers. A link to the story is at: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/06/168619054/how-a-community-created-a-garden-from-sadnessRead more
The Garden in Winter – Therapy for All Seasons
“I love the garden in winter just always as much I do in the summer. I find it very satisfactory walking through and then each month, there’s something slightly different.” This quote from Rosemary Verey is one that we can take to heart on this Winter Solstice day. The days may be shorter, however, it is rewarding to get outside and explore all that the (winter) garden has to offer.
“One of her lessons is for everyone, not just gardening people, and that is her example coming to something quite late in her life and being self-taught and self-made and at the end of her life,” Robinson told Here and Now. “She is world famous. Now, we might not all achieve that, but it is an inspiration that we can have an important chapter later in our lives”
To listen to the full story about Rosemary Verey, her gardening activities, how she influenced many lives, and the book on Rosemary by Barbara Paul Robinson – follow the link to the NPR story at: http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/12/21/garden-advisor-vereyRead more
Therapeutic Gardens in the Workplace
How about taking your work outside to sit at a table, under a tree, the birds singing, a gentle breeze and the gentle sound of a water fountain – while you are at the office? This is not a dream – it is a reality. Businesses are providing gardens for people to work. The research validates the importance of incorporating the natural environment for productivity and restoration.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Going outside for short breaks – or stimulating the outdoors with foliage or images of nature – can reduce worker stress and list moods…Taking a nature walk can increase short-term memory capacity by some 20%.” To read more about the benefits of creating gardens in the workplace, refer to the 11-21-12 article “Bringing Work to the Great Outdoors”:Read more