About This Blog

Keep Calm and…

Keep calm and garden on: http://www.etsy.com/listing/62883428/keep-calm-and-garden-on-5x7-printA little over a month ago, I moved from the lush, verdant Hudson Valley in New York to the hot world of College Station, Texas (haven’t been here long enough to use any more adjectives than that). I’ll be starting the PhD program at Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture in the fall, focusing on (surprise!) access to nature and evidence-based design. TAMU’s Center for Health Systems and Design, founded by Roger Ulrich, is one of the best in the country. I’m excited, as well as daunted, by this new adventure.

In the meantime, I’m settling in and spending most of my time writing a book on therapeutic gardens in the healthcare setting with co-author Clare Cooper Marcus, to be published by John Wiley and Sons in 2013.

Many people, when I tell them about this new direction (which isn’t new, it’s just going deeper into what I already do) ask what will happen to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network. I can assure you, the TLN website, blog, and community will remain active. Blog posts may change shape, they may become more sporadic, they may include more voices from guest bloggers. This all remains to be seen. In the meantime, keep calm; the TLN is alive and well and we’re as committed and excited as ever to “connecting people with information…people…nature.”

Stay tuned for the next TLN Newsletter, available free to all TLN members. Click on this link to sign up: www.healinglandscapes.org/resources/newsletter.

Please join us on Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter to connect and share information, questions, and ideas with the thousands of fantastic people in our Network.

All the best,

Naomi Sachs
Founding Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network

(Image courtesy of the Keep Calm Shop: http://www.etsy.com/people/KeepCalmShop)


News from the TLN – A note from the Director

Live oak, College Station, TX. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Live oak, College Station, TX. Photo by Naomi Sachs

I knew it had been a long time since the last TLN Blog post, but I didn’t realize until yesterday that it’s been almost a month. I think we are also overdue for our monthly TLN e-Newsletter (if you’d like to receive the free newsletter, sign up here).

The big news is that I have been accepted into the PhD program in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. I will be focusing on – you guessed it – therapeutic landscapes, in the Center for Health Systems & Design. The faculty there is unbelievable, the students are top-notch, and the scholarship that comes out of the Center is excellent. The big draw for me is that several Architecture professors focus on access to nature (see, for example, Susan Rodiek’s Access to Nature DVD series). So it’s a great fit, and I’m excited about pursuing the missing piece of my puzzle: Research on how nature – wild and designed – affects people’s health and well-being. Learning how to conduct original research, write about it, and teach others will, I hope, make a contribution to the growing field of evidence-based design (stay tuned for the next post which focuses on EBD) to not just advocate for therapeutic landscapes but to answer specific questions about how we can best design spaces that benefit even the most vulnerable populations.

The TLN website and community will remain active, but will probably undergo changes as I transition from full-time TLN Director and part-time landscape designer to full-time doctoral student. I am in conversation with our Advisory Board about how to make this happen. Support from TLN members who can donate funds and/or time will be essential (if you would like to donate now, please visit our Support page; no amount is too small…or too big). The conversations we’ve been having on Linked In and Facebook have become so dynamic, fulfilling the “connecting people with people” part of our mission and vision.

I will also be moving from my home of almost 7 years in the verdant Hudson Valley to College Station, in Central Texas. This will be quite the change of scenery. I was fortunate last week to see the Texas Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush in full bloom together, a breathtaking sight. Above is an image of a noble Live Oak in one of College Station’s parks.

Thanks to all of you for putting the “N” in the TLN. Like a good, well-tended tree, this is truly a strong Network, getting stronger and more vibrant all the time. I look forward to continuing our work, in whatever way takes shape, in the years to come. In the meantime, stay tuned for more blog posts as I pack boxes and prepare to move!

– Naomi Sachs, ASLA, EDAC
Founding Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network

Happy New Year, and Happy Anniversary, TLN Blog!

Ferns at Hiddenbrooke Park, Beacon, NY. Photo by Naomi Sachs

First-ever TLN Blog photo: Ferns at Hiddenbrooke Park, Beacon, NY. By Naomi Sachs

Wow, has it really been 4 years?

I started the Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog on January 1st, 2008, as a way to share information, news, and ideas with others who are passionate about the connection between nature and health. It’s been incredibly rewarding (for me and, I hope, for you) and I look forward to bringing you more in 2012.

Here’s a link to our first post, as well as the second, “Healing Gardens = Happy Employees, too.”

So Happy Anniversary to us, and Happy New Year to all!

– Naomi Sachs
Founding Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network


Blog Recovery, with Lessons Learned

Nest. Photo by Naomi SachsAs many of you know by now, the TLN Blog was hacked into this past weekend and was down for over 24 hours. Why would some cyberpunk from Algeria target us, you may ask? He didn’t – we were one of hundreds of blogs that were hacked into and messed with. And why did he do it? Simple: Because he could. He was showing off. We’re not taking it personally, but it sure would be nice if he’d cough up the dough to pay for time spent recovering.

Here’s what I’ve learned this week, and if you do any sort of online work, please pay attention:

  1. If you have a blog, website, etc., set it to back up every day, preferably in more than one place (the TLN Blog was set for weekly backup, so we lost the three last posts, including two that took several hours to create. Thankfully, we did have enough content saved to rebuild them);
  2. Always back up text and images on your own hard drive (as a Word document, etc.) so that when some nasty punk comes along and wipes out your online work for no apparent reason, you have the original content;
  3. Have good tech support for when things go wrong (thank you, Randy Caruso!);
  4. Have enough money in the budget to pay for that tech support.

The silver lining is that people have been generous with verbal and financial support to help us keep smiling and to defray costs. Perhaps it took this sort of debacle to remind people that the Therapeutic Landscapes Network website and blog require a tremendous amount of time and energy to run. As Joni Mitchell said, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” Donations to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network are always welcome. You can contribute online or with a check to P.O. Box 728, Beacon, NY, 12508.

Thank you!

Naomi Sachs, ASLA
Founder & Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network


Use Us! Getting the Most from the Therapeutic Landscapes Network

Cuban Tree Snails. Photo by Henry Domke, http://henrydomke.com/

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network has a lot to offer – so much so that people sometimes don’t even know what-all we have or how to best find it. Here’s a guide. Don’t worry if you can’t take it in all at once. We’ve added it to the “About Us” section of this blog in the top right-hand column.

But first, let me point out that we are a small organization with a big mission. Just as with public radio and many other great resources, our website and blog would not be possible without the support of our Wonderful Sponsors, particularlyLandscape Forms and Scofield, as well as generous contributions from individuals. We welcome donations and more Wonderful Sponsors – if you like what we do, help us keep doing it. If you want to see more, help us build.

The TLN Website (www.healinglandscapes.org)
Our website provides a wealth of information about gardens and landscapes that promote health and well-being. We are always adding new information and images. Some of the pages are very much still works in progress, and most are rich with content. Think of our website as an online bibliography that doesn’t go out of date as soon as it goes to print!

Searching and Finding
The “search” tool is present in the upper right-hand corner of every website page. Use it to search for any keyword or phrase within the website (e.g., “Alzheimer’s,” “evidence-based design,” “Chicago, IL,” “sensory gardens.”).
If you just want to do searches within the TLN Blog, use the search function in the right-hand column under “Search This Blog.”

Still can’t find what you’re looking for, or don’t know where to look first? Check out our Site Map for a quick overview of what’s where.

Take some time to roam around the website and see what we have to offer; you might just stumble upon a gem or two that you weren’t even looking for but are glad to have found.

References – Resources, research, and references

  • References – Hundreds of books, articles from peer-reviewed journals and popular magazines, theses, conference presentations, and more. The Search function is useful for finding specific topics.
  • If You Only Read Five” – Recommended readings sorted into categories such as “Where to Start,” “Design for seniors and people with dementia,” and “Books for inspiration.”


Happy Birthday to Us!

Prothonotary warbler. Photo by Henry Domke, http://henrydomke.com

Prothonotary warbler. Photo by Henry Domke, http://henrydomke.com

Okay, really happy birth month, since I seem to have missed the day (whoops!). My first Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog post was three whole years ago, on January 2nd, 2008.

A lot has happened since then, including a name change for the Blog (was originally the Therapeutic Landscapes Database Blog) and the organization itself (was the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center).

Our interdisciplinary network of designers, health and human service providers, gardeners, and nature enthusiasts continues to grow, and energy just keep building.

As always, the Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog provides information, education, and inspiration about gardens and landscapes that promote health and well-being. And as always, I see this blog not as a one-way virtual newspaper but as a forum for communication and dialog. I LOVE comments because they create a conversation. That’s what makes this Network so strong and vibrant.

Thanks to all of you for reading, for subscribing, for commenting, and for supporting the TLN!

Want to get more involved?

Garden Designers Roundtable: Thoughts and Evidence on Therapy and Healing in the Garden

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
~ John Burroughs

Autumn crocus, The High Line, New York City. Photo by Naomi Sachs

This blog post comes courtesy of the Garden Designers Roundtable, who invited me to be their first-ever guest blogger. I’m honored and excited to be participating in today’s roundtable discussion, the theme of which is “Therapy and healing in the garden.” All photos are by Naomi Sachs.

Some Thoughts and Evidence on Therapy and Healing in the Garden

The idea that gardens and landscapes foster good health seems like a no-brainer, especially to gardeners and garden/landscape designers/architects. It’s like telling Newton that apples really do fall down. Sadly, though I’m preaching to the choir here today, many people still haven’t grasped this concept, and we can find all too many examples of landscapes that are anything but healing (picture, if you will, a parking lot at the mall…). At the Therapeutic Landscape Network, we focus a lot of our attention on the design of hospitals and other healthcare environments because – oddly enough – they tend to be so far behind as places that facilitate health and well-being on a holistic level. We’re getting there, but we still have a long way to go.

For today, since a big part of the TLN’s mission is to connect designers and health and human service providers with the research they need to design beautiful, nurturing, successfully restorative spaces, I thought I’d highlight some of the evidence that we’ve blogged about over the years. In this case, research that “proves” that being in and interacting with nature is, indeed, restorative for body and soul. This research is important because it’s positive ammunition. It’s what makes CEOs, and policy makers, and grant funders and our clients sit up and take notice (and change the laws and sign the checks!). I’ve provided a one-sentence summary of the research, with the title of each related blog post that you can link to for more information and full citations.

But first, for background, the seminal ‘View Through a Window’ study:
In 1984, Roger Ulrich studied two sets of patients, both in the same hospital, both recovering from the same surgery. The key difference: One group’s view from their window was of nature – grass, trees and sky; the other’s was of a brick wall. Ulrich found that the patients with the nature view complained less, required less pain medication, and made a faster recovery. Here, finally, was empirical proof of the salutary benefits of nature. Ulrich’s paper, published in the journal Science, got the attention of the medical community and legitimized the field of evidence-based design. Evidence-based design being the use of quantitative, and sometimes qualitative, research to design environments that facilitate health and improve outcomes. Since then, hundreds of studies have been published. Some, like those cited below, continue to demonstrate that contact with nature is good for people; some explore how people benefit, and what conditions are best for specific groups, needs, and situations (e.g., children; seniors with dementia; gardens for people who are immuno-compromised).

Innisfree, Millbrook, NY

The evidence since ‘View Through a Window.’ A few good examples:

Trees, greenery, and other vegetation make neighborhoods safer and more desirable. They even play a role in boosting students’ grades and reducing the risk of domestic violence.
See “Healing the Neighborhood: The Power of Gardens.”

Plants in an office setting improve worker satisfaction, creativity, and productivity.
See “I Demand Satisfaction! The Role of Nature in Job Satisfaction.”

As little as 10 minutes spent outside improves attention in children with ADHD; neighborhoods with more green space improve body mass index of children and youth.
See “Nature Deficit Disorder: Getting Kids Outdoors.” For many more resources on nature-based learning and play for kids, visit our Get Out and Play! page.

Uma, picking serviceberries. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Gardening improves health and happiness, including reducing heart rate and blood pressure.
See “Horticultural Therapy in the Wall Street Journal.” Horticultural Therapy is “a professional practice that uses the cultivation of plants and gardening activities to improve the mental and physical health of its participants,” (definition courtesy of the Horticultural Therapy Institute). Hort therapists often work with occupational and physical therapists in a garden setting; gardens that are designed specifically for this kind of therapy are called rehabilitation gardens. For more information, see the horticultural therapy page on our website and for a really inspiring post about the power of horticultural therapy, see A Life Worth Living: The Garden as Healer.

Exposure to nature makes people more altruistic and generous.
It’s true, Nature Makes Us Nicer!

Autumn leaves. Photo by Naomi Sachs

I hope that now that you’ve been introduced to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog, you’ll stay awhile and read some of our older posts, and that you’ll visit us again for new ones (you can also sign up to have posts emailed to you). I welcome your comments, which can often lead to great dialog on the TLN Blog.

Many thanks again to the Garden Designers Roundtable for the invitation and warm welcome as a guest blogger. Visit the GDRT website (gdrt.wordpress.com), or click on the links below, to read other bloggers’ posts (and to see some great pictures) – it’s an excellent group, and each blogger has something interesting to say on the topic.

Genevieve Schmidt, North Coast Gardening: Designing a Landscape for Colorblind People
Ivette Soler, The Germinatrix: Plant a Garden, The Life You Save Might Be Your Own
Jenny Petersen, J Petersen Garden Design: Therapeutic Spaces
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber, Hegarty Webber Partnership: Homage to Ariadne: Labyrinthine Therapy
Rochelle Greayer, Studio “G”: A Tale About What Makes a Garden Healing

Free Delivery! The TLN Blog, Emailed to You

Photo by Naomi Sachs

Silly me: After all this time since moving to the our TLN Blog url, I only just realized that I haven’t been getting TLN Blog posts emailed to me since the move. I thought it would be automatic, but I was wrong! So, if you, too, have been feeling a certain lack of lustre in your life, it’s probably because you haven’t been getting your usual TLN Blog posts, either. And it’s not because we haven’t been posting; it’s because you need to sign up at this new site. Just look for “Subscribe to the TLN Blog” in the column to your right, and sign up.* Easy, and you’ll once again start receiving posts delivered to your virtual doorstep. And of course, if you never signed up to begin with, perhaps this post will inspire you to do so. It’s easier than trying to remember to check the blog, and many people have commented to us that for the beautiful images alone, they enjoy seeing our posts appear in their email inbox.

*Please note that there are two sign-up forms. One is for the TLN Blog, mentioned above, and one is for the free TLN Newsletter. Why not sign up for both?

We Are Here! A new home for the TLN Blog.

Photo of monarch butterfly courtesy of Henry Domke

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog has a new home – on the Therapeutic Landscapes Network website!

What a concept, right? It’s been a long time coming, and we are happy to be here. WordPress, our new blog platform, has a rather steep learning curve, so please “pardon our dust” as we learn the ropes. This blog will soon be even better than it was before, and best of all, it’s all nestled cozily within our Therapeutic Landscapes Network website. Many, many thanks to our technical magician, Randy Caruso, for making this happen, and to an anonymous donor (you know who you are!) for funding this giant leap.

Our new url is www.healinglandscapes.org/blog. Please make a note of this, and spread the word!

Like What We’re Doing? Show Us Some Love!

A bouquet of tulips for all of our supporters. Photo by Henry Domke

If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably familiar with the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and our mission to “provide information, free of charge, about gardens and landscapes that promote health and well-being.”

As the TLN’s founder, director, and author of this blog, I have to say, I love my job. It’s incredibly rewarding to connect with people who care deeply about the restorative benefits of nature. And there are so many of us, from individuals to design firms to hospital doctors, nurses, and administrators. It’s exciting to be a part of something I care about so deeply.
If you like what we do, here are some ways you can show it:
Donate!Your donations really, really help. We’re deeply committed to keeping access to the information we provide free and available to everyone. That doesn’t just happen on its own. Just like with public radio, if you benefit from what we provide, please make a donation so that we can continue to provide it. No donation is too small; they are not (yet!) tax-deductible, but you will receive many cosmic goodie points, along with the warm glow of knowing that you’re supporting an organization that’s making a difference.
Join the TLN – Become part of a growing group of like-minded people (505 and growing every day). It’s free, and only our members receive our monthly newsletter. Members also get discounts on things like the Access to Nature for Older Adults DVD seriess

Become a “fan” on Facebook – We now have over 700 members! This is a great way to connect with others and to get quick updates on news, links, and upcoming events. We also have over 2,500 followers on twitter, and you can join us there, too.
Buy stuff We have a nifty store on the TLN site with things like mugs, mousepads, water bottles, t-shirts, caps, and other wearable goodies, all with our beautiful Echinacea mascot (thanks, Henry Domke, for the image).
Order Amazon books and other merchandise through our site – As an Amazon Affiliate, we receive a percentage of every sale that happens through our website. Not just books, but anything you buy from Amazon. So bookmark our site and click on the Amazon logo before you start shopping.

Spread the word! Forward our blog and newsletter, write about us on your own blog or interview us for a news story, invite us to speak at an event, suggest to friends on Facebook.
Whether you do one or all of these things, your support makes a big difference – many thanks!