Happy Birthday, Mary Oliver!

Ocean-Twilight_0960K Henry Domke

Photo by Henry Domke

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets, and I learned this morning on The Writer’s Almanac that it’s her Birthday. So in her honor, here is one of her lovely poems, with an accompanying photo by the talented Henry Domke.


What is the good life now? Why,
look here and consider
the moon’s white crescent

rounding, slowly, over
the half month to still
another perfect circle–

the shining eye
that lightens the hills,
that lays down the shadows

of the branches of the trees,
that summons the flowers
to open their sleepy faces and look up

into the heavens.
I used to hurry everywhere,
and leaped over running creeks.

There wasn’t
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do

in a single day. Patience
comes to the bones
before it takes root in the heart

as another good idea.
I say this
as I stand in the woods

and study the patterns
of the moon shadows,
or stroll down to the waters

that now, late summer, have also
caught the fever, and hardly move
from one eternity to another.


From:  New and Selected Poems, Volume Two
Copyright ©:  Mary Oliver

If you want to learn more about Oliver beyond what Wikipedia might tell, I suggest this article, Mary Oliver and the Nature-esque.


“Nature Heals” Symposium – Still time to register!


Nature Heals Symposium
Organized and hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2015

Do you ever wish you could be in more than one place at the same time? I would so love to attend this event. So I’m asking you: Please go in my stead and report back.

A connection to nature is essential to human health and wellbeing. If you are interested in learning about the healing power of nature, and understanding more about how nature increases health and improves wellbeing, you should attend our Nature-Based Therapies Public Forum on Sept. 30. For those interested in the application of nature-based therapies research, and how it can be applied to your workplace, clinic, or professional environments, consider attending our Nature-Based Therapies Research Symposium. These events are hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Presenters* include:
Terry Hartig – Restorative Landscapes
Agnes van den Berg – Green Exercise
Joe Sempik – Therapeutic Horticulture
Cindy Wilson – Animal Assisted Interactions
Jan Hassink – Care Farming

*These are some of the “rock stars” in this field. Again: I wish I could go. Please go for me!

For more information and to register, visit the Center for Spirituality & Healing.


Wordless Wednesday 7/15/15 – Summer fruit

Summer plums. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Summer plums


Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World

Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World

Wait. Take a deep breath. Before you throw your hands up in hopeless despair that the world is coming to a quick and ugly end, I have a book for you to read. Jared Green, author of Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World (Princeton Architectural Press) asked 80 global leaders who shape our built environment (architects, urban planners, landscape architects, journalists, artists, and environmental leaders) the question, “What gives you hope that a sustainable future is possible?” Each one-page answer, illustrated with an image on the opposite page, is thought-provoking, informative, and inspiring.

In the introduction, Green says his book “represents the collective wisdom of a hive mind.” And it really does. With my particular interest in landscapes for health and healthcare, I especially enjoyed John Cary’s “Butaro Hospital” and Tim Beatley’s “Koo Teck Puat Hospital.” (Full disclosure, I also have an excerpt in the book, about Central Park as an ideal example of “nearby nature”). While all of the essays resonated with me in one way or another, a few stand out: Janine Benyus’ “Termite Mounds,” Jeff Stein’s “City Repair,” John Peterson’s “Holding Pattern,” Janet Echelman’s “Park(ing) Day,” and J. Meejin Yoon’s “The Lightning Field.”

Designed for the FutureGreen tell us that “We can’t give up yet.” He also says,

And reading through all the answers, I thought again that hope is perhaps the most valuable currency we have, as it motivates all our actions–from creating a world-changing new technology to preserving a beloved old building or town or square to protecting a threatened community or ecosystem. We have the answers.

The book is a really good read, and designers will appreciate it for the aesthetics as well–not what you’d usually think of for the beach, but pack it along, you won’t be disappointed.


Labyrinths for Healthcare: Approach with Caution

Labyrinth at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital. Photo by Clare Cooper Marcus

St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Santa Rosa, CA. This labyrinth is appropriate for a healthcare setting since the walking route is relatively short (7-circuit); there are no overlooking windows, and vegetative screening ensures privacy; it is shaded; and a simple explanatory sign explains its use. Photo by Clare Cooper Marcus

This post might invite more invective or controversy than usual (which is usually none, so we’ll see), but it’s something important to discuss: Labyrinths are not always appropriate for healthcare gardens. When they are used, they need to be sited and designed to best benefit garden users. Clare Cooper Marcus and I discuss this issue in our book Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces and some of the text below is excerpted from Chapter 6 (p. 78).

Please understand: I have nothing against labyrinths per se. In fact, in the right place and context, I think they are wonderful and I very much enjoy walking them. The TLN has a page on labyrinths. In our chapter on Gardens for Veterans and Active Duty Personnel, we discuss how labyrinths are used in the therapeutic process (p. 210-211).

First, what is a labyrinth?
The classical labyrinth consists of a continuous path that winds in circles into a center and out again. This basic form dates from antiquity and is intended for contemplative walking. A labyrinth is sometimes erroneously referred to as a maze, which consists of a complex system of pathways between tall hedges, with the purpose of getting people lost. The aim of a maze is playful diversion, whereas the aim of the labyrinth was, and is, to offer the user a walking path of quiet reflection. See this earlier TLN Blog post for more on the distinction between labyrinths and mazes.

Labyrinth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Labyrinth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada


Happy Earth Day!

From http://happydayquote.com/earth-day-quotes-tumblr/

From http://happydayquote.com/earth-day-quotes-tumblr/

The Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program – Register now!

One of the many beautiful flowers seen last year during the CBG Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program

One of the many beautiful flowers seen last year during the CBG Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program

Registration is now open for the Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program, and for the seminar, “Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness.”

Eight-day professional development certificate
May 13 – 20, 2015

Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness
One-Day Seminar
May 13, 2014
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Online registration is unavailable 24 hours prior to the class start date. You may still register by calling (847) 835-8261.

The eight-day Certificate Program includes case studies, group projects, field trips, lectures, and instruction from experts from healthcare garden-related professions. Working in multidisciplinary teams that reflect the real world of healthcare garden design, your learning will be reinforced through tours of healthcare facilities in greater Chicago.


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – March 4, 2015

Chicksaw plum (Prunus angustifolia). Photo by Naomi Sachs

Chicksaw plum (Prunus angustifolia). Photo by Naomi Sachs

In Central Texas, things are already blooming, including the Chicksaw plum. The scent is gorgeous – sweet and a little bit spicy. I can always tell when I’m about to see one of these shrubby trees (tree-e shrubs?) in blossom because I smell it first.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' blooming in January. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ blooming in January. Photo by Naomi Sachs

If you are in colder climates and are feeling frozenly jealous right now, stop! Once spring comes, go out and get a witch hazel; you will not be disappointed, especially when she blooms – a fragrance that is also quite spicy – in the darkest days of winter. My favorite type is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ (which in my NY garden usually bloomed in late December and kept on going for over a month) but there are many to choose from. Amazing fall foliage, too. If you want a winter blooming witch hazel, make sure you get one; Hamamelis virginica and some others bloom in the late fall. Or if you’re a plantaholic like me, ignore the fact that there’s no room in your garden for both…and then get both.


‘Birthright’ by Stephen Kellert – Book review by Lisa Horne

This excellent book review of ‘Birthright’ is by Lisa Horne, ASLA

Birthright cover. Image Source: Yale University PressAs the keynote at the 2013 national American Society of Landscape Architects annual meeting and expo in Boston, Stephen Kellert gave a provocative presentation for the profession. “Biophilia” is a relatively new concept in design and Kellert’s recent work Birthright gives a heartwarming survey of ideas with relevancy to design and theory.

Birthright provides a basis for incorporating nature into our lives. Kellert leaves classifications of nature open-ended and defines biophilia as a love of life. We have an innate desire for nature, which is “a birthright that must be cultivated and earned” (Kellert xiii). This attitude neither advocates a return to an Arcadian past nor forecasts apocalyptic doom. Instead, he asserts that humans will recognize their own self-interest and benefit from investing in the environment. An audience of academics, leaders, policy makers, and professionals interested in biophilia will appreciate the pace, text, and reasoning. (more…)

HSNY’s Healing Nature Forum: Keynote by TLN’s Naomi Sachs

Healing Nature Forum

2015 Healing Nature Forum: Horticulture as Therapy
The Horticultural Society of New York
When: March 27, 2015
Where: Center for Architecture, Tafel Hall
536 Laguardia Place
New York, NY 10012

The Healing Nature Forum promotes awareness that the connection to nature is essential to human health and well-being, and interactions with plants and gardens provide physical, psychological, and community benefits. This year’s forum will focus on the factors of healing, meditation, contemplation, and restoration of therapeutic gardens. Join us as we welcome horticultural therapists, landscape architects, and researchers to discuss the importance of horticulture as therapy.

This year’s keynote speaker, Naomi A. Sachs, MLA, EDAC is Founding Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and a PhD student in Architecture at Texas A&M University within the Center for Health Systems and Design. Her dissertation focus is on developing a standardized toolkit for evaluation of gardens in healthcare facilities. (more…)