Upcoming Events with the Horticultural Therapy Institute

Continuing in our series on upcoming events, we have two with the Horticultural Therapy Institute:

On 9/1, a free webinar, “Programming that Enhances Growth.” See the HTI website for more details.

Leaders in Horticultural Therapy Education. In September and November, Leaders in Horticultural Therapy classes will be held in California, Colorado and Michigan.

Learn how to combine a passion for gardening and helping people through the innovative field of horticultural therapy. Join students from across the country to learn more by enrolling in Introduction to Horticultural Therapy this fall in one of three locations.

At the non-profit, Horticultural Therapy Institute (HTI), our mission is to provide education and training in HT to those new to, or experienced with, the practice of using gardening and plants to improve the lives of others. Our faculty is dedicated to teaching best practices with passion, and our past students form a community of learners that become horticultural therapy practitioners in a variety of settings. Take one class or the full certificate program and see how our curriculum can meet your needs. Students from a variety of disciplines find this program enriches their current vocation and can initiate a new career direction.
Horticultural Therapy Institute

Elkus Ranch: Half Moon Bay, CA
Sept. 23-26, 2010

Anchor Center for Blind Children: Denver, CO
Nov. 4-7, 2010

University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens: Ann Arbor, MI
Nov. 11-14, 2010

Class cost is $750 or $600 for full-time college students. Remaining certificate classes will be held in Colorado and California. Students can earn college credit from Colorado State University in order to meet the AHTA professional standards. For full class descriptions, schedules and enrollment forms go to our web site at or call 303-388-0500.

Now online! Nature-Based Learning and Play for Children with Autism and Special Needs

Since Richard Louv began his No Child Left Inside campaign, we have seen a wonderful groundswell around the importance of children experiencing the natural world. And at the same time, sadly, we continue to see an alarming rise in children with autism and other related disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism now affects 1 in every 110 American children. This new number is a staggering 57% increase from 2002-2006. Clearly, we need more research on prevention and treatment options, but we also need more ways to help those children (and their families) on the “autism spectrum” who are coping on a daily basis.

One way that we can help is by designing environments that support children on the spectrum, including outdoor play and learning spaces. That’s why Tara Vincenta – Principal at Artemis Landscape Architects and creator of the SOL (Sequential Outdoor Learning) Environment –  and I were thrilled when KaBOOM! approached us about doing an online training on this very subject. We’ve had a great time collaborating and are happy to announce that the training is now available on the KaBOOM! website, and will soon be up on the SOL Environment and Therapeutic Landscapes Network websites as well.

The free online training is called “Prescription for Play: Nature-based Play and Learning for Autistic and Special Needs Children.” Here’s the description:

Join landscape architects Naomi Sachs, Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and Tara Vincenta, creator of SOL (Sequential Outdoor Learning) Environment as they explore research and design considerations for creating outdoor, nature-based play and learning environments for autistic and special needs children. Many of the challenges faced by autistic children are shared with a broader community of special needs children, including motor, neuromuscular, cognitive, sensory and communication issues, and visual and auditory impairment. Sachs and Vincenta will share ideas for creating outdoor spaces that allow children to play at their own comfort level, overcoming common challenges in a safe, FUN, nature-based environment that is equally engaging for any child.

Go to KaBOOM’s Hot Topics in Play page to access the training, and if ours is not the first training, just scroll down until you see it. You’ll find other great topics there as well, and once you join KaBOOM (free, of course), you can access any and all. KaBOOM! is a wonderful non-profit organization whose mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities, and whose vision is “a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.”

You can also download a pdf of the supplemental materials – a list resources in print and online about this topic – from the KaBOOM website, and we’ll have those on our respective websites soon, too.

Many, many thanks to KaBOOM! (and especially to Kiva) for this wonderful opportunity, and to you, dear reader, for spreading the word (yes, that’s a hint).

A New Way to Improve Quality of Life for Seniors: Excellent DVD Series (with a discount for us!)

Five years ago, Susan Rodiek embarked on a project to create a series of DVDs about providing better access to nature for older adults. Rodiek, a professor at Texas A & M University’s Center for Health Systems & Design, specializes in senior populations, and access to nature has long been a focus for her research and teaching.

Those years of hard work have paid off. I received my “Access to Nature for Older Adults” DVDs last week and I’m truly impressed. The three-DVD series is not just instructional – it’s downright inspiring. With beautiful imagery, compelling research and interviews, easily digestible information, and a lot of real, practical solutions to common problems, it’s a must-watch and a must-have for architects, landscape architects, planners, educators, and any care provider who works with seniors in continuing care retirement communities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospices, as well as acute care general hospitals.

Session One, The Value of Nature, describes how access to nature may benefit the health of seniors, from the perspective of experts and available research – addressing the role of programs, policies, and design issues.

Session Two, Improving Outdoor Access, explores how the layout of the building itself can either encourage or discourage outdoor access, and how specific areas – such as indoor-outdoor connections – can be successfully developed.

Session Three, Safe and Usable Outdoor Spaces, highlights the main outdoor features that are reported by residents to impact their outdoor usage, and how these can be improved. Seating, shade, and walkways are among the outdoor elements illustrated.

The Access to Nature website is also chock-full of good information. Some of it is accessible to everyone, and some of it is only accessible if you have the DVDs. So go ahead and buy them! You won’t be sorry.

Receive a 10% discount: Between now and the end of January 2010, Therapeutic Landscapes Network members and readers of this blog will receive a 10% a discount when you buy any or all of the Access to Nature DVDs. Just enter this promotional code in the checkout section on the Access to Nature website: TLNA2N.

Letter to a young landscape architecture student (or How to Land That Job in Healthcare Design)

Snowy Egrets, image courtesy Henry Domke Fine Art

I got this letter from a soon-to-be-graduating BLA student who is looking to work in the field of healthcare design in landscape architecture. It’s a question I get a lot, so I thought I’d share her letter and my response on the blog. Hope it’s useful!

I found your website through the Land8Lounge Therapeutic Landscapes Network group. I am currenty a fifth year student, receiving my BLA and will be graduating in May. I am very interested in therapeutic landscapes and used the Therapeutic Landscapes Database you created frequently last semester in a Healthcare and Therapeutic Site Design Studio. Upon my graduation in the spring, I am looking to join a firm which focuses on therapeutic landscapes – or has a component of the firm which deals with designing for healthcare facilities. I recognize that this is a difficult time to get a job, but would love any input you might have as to firms which you might recommend. I know that this aspect of landscape architecture is on the forefront and would love to be a part of it in the future. 

Dear student: It’s true, you’re entering the job market at a difficult time. Of course we’re all hopeful that things will have picked up – at least a little bit! – by the time you graduate with your BLA in May. Still, if your passion is therapeutic landscapes, then you should at least try to find a firm to work in where you can develop what you’ve learned in school and do what you love. 

As you explore your employment options, I’d suggest asking yourself the following questions: Where am I willing to go? Am I willing to move anywhere in the country (or even outside of the country)? Am I willing to work in any size firm, from one person to 100 people? Am I willing to start with a small salary, doing mostly CAD work, and climb up the ladder as I gain experience and expertise? Am I willing to start somewhere that doesn’t specialize in therapeutic landscapes to gain experience and seniority, with the goal of finding somewhere else in a couple-few years? What is it about the study and design of therapeutic landscapes that appeals to me, and how can I best demonstrate my strengths in this area to potential employers? What are my weaknesses, and how would I like to grow and improve in my work? Answering these questions will help you identify your potential employers. The more flexible you are about place/preferences/salary/type of work you are willing and able to do, the better your chances of finding a position. 

The three best places to start looking are Land8LoungeASLA’s Joblink, and the Therapeutic Landscapes Database’s People page. The People page is a great resource because all of these designers are working in the specific field that you want to work in – landscapes for health. In the next few months we will be adding many more designers, once we launch our “new improved” website (in the works now). 

When I was fresh out of graduate school with my MLA, I very much wanted to work in healthcare design, but I was also moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where any landscape architecture job was hard to come by. I knew that if I really wanted to live in NM, I was probably going to have to put my desire to work in healthcare design aside for awhile. Which I did…and didn’t. Although my paid work was with a landscape architect who focused on commercial and high-end residential design, I kept up with my passion in my spare time: I joined the ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (which you should also do, if you haven’t yet), started the Therapeutic Landscapes Database, and did pro bono work in the community. If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to do it, whether it’s your primary job, your unpaid passion, maybe right now, or perhaps in five or ten years. Knowing what you want you want and going for it takes flexibility, perseverance, and patience.

You are lucky in that you know what you want. So many people fresh out of school have no clue; they just go where the jobs are, letting the tide take them where it will. While they may be earning a steady paycheck, they often find their work to be mind-numbingly and soul-stultifyingly unsatisfying. Of course, the best of all worlds is to earn a steady, lucrative paycheck by doing what you love, where you want, when you want, etc., but sometimes that doesn’t all happen at the same time. So give it your best shot! Ask yourself the tough questions, be honest with yourself about the answers, and know your strengths and limitations as you venture out into the wild, wooly, wonderful world of landscape architecture and healthcare design.

Conference: Creating Sustainable Environments for Young Children

A colleague just sent me this announcement for the “Institute for Creating Sustainable Environments for Young Children” conference in Kansas City, MO. Dates are June 11-12, with a pre-conference day on June 10th for a site visit to Pembroke Hill Early Learning Center. 

“The Institute provides a place where early childhood practitioners and designers can learn about creating sustainable environments for young children, both indoors and outdoors.”

Click HERE to see more details.

Thanks, Bryce, for the conference info, and thanks to Jeff for the image of his daughters and goats!

Back to School: Healthcare Garden Design Certification Program at Chicago Botanic Garden

When designers and people in health and human services ask me what they can do to get better educated about healthcare garden design, I usually point them to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Healthcare Garden Design Professional Development Certificate Program. One of my early posts, “Education in Healthcare Design,” listed it, along with other good programs, but CBG is worth mentioning again because registration for 2009 (May 6-13) is now open, and because Anne Hunt, a Chicago-based writer and recent graduate of the program, recently wrote an article about it and has just sent me the pdf, which you can link to HERE. To see more images of the Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital Rooftop Garden mentioned in Hunt’s article, go to the site.

Here’s a little teaser from Anne Hunt’s article:


The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Healthcare Garden Design certification course offers a unique opportunity to understand the multi-faceted nature of healthcare garden design and expand and improve professional services.

The intensive 8-day program brings together landscape design professionals, architects and interior designers, therapists, nurses and recreation specialists, healthcare marketers, administrators and consultants. Specialists in all of these areas share research, experience, business savvy and a passion for healing gardens with participants, who themselves bring a variety of backgrounds to the table.

“Therapeutic Gardens of the Delaware Valley,” ASLA Field Session

Medford Leas CCRC, Medford, NJ (Design for Generations)
Once again, P. Annie Kirk of the Acer Institute and Jack Carman of Design for Generations have put together what looks to be an excellent educational field session in Philadelphia, PA, site of this year’s ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) annual meeting. 
Organized through ASLA’s Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network, the field session will be on October 3rd; if you’re attending the meeting and you haven’t signed up yet, do it soon – the field session sold out ahead of time last year!
From the Acer Institute site, where you can go to get more information and images:
“The on-site, interactive tour will engage design professionals, residents, staff, administrators, and historians. We will explore issues, trends, resources, and successful collaborations in design, implementation, and programming of therapeutic gardens.”

Wrote a Thesis? Part II

Back in March, I put a call out to graduates requesting theses that I could list on the TLD References page. I’ve gotten a few responses, and have found a couple of my own in my travels as well. These, as well as some of the abstracts, can be found in alphabetical order on the TLD References page, along with previously-listed theses. Additions to this list are always welcome! 

Hebert, Bonnie B. (2003). “Design Guidelines of a Therapeutic Garden for Autistic Children.” Master of Landscape Architecture Thesis for Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College.
Click here or on the title above to link to a pdf of the thesis.

Kovary, Myra M. (1999). “Healing Landscapes: Design Guidelines for Mental Health Facilities.” Master of Landscape Architecture Thesis, Cornell University.
A similar version of Kovary’s thesis was published with the same title as Chapter 12 of Shoemaker, Candice A. (Ed.) (2002). Interaction by Design: Bringing People and Plants Together for Health and Well-Being. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State Press.
If you’d like an electronic copy of this thesis, contact the author: 

Lindemuth, Amy (2006). “SOU Courtyard Garden: Designing a Therapeutic Environment for Corrections Staff and Mentally Ill Offenders.” Master of Landscape Architecture Thesis, University of Washington 2006. 
This is a design thesis and includes design of a real site at a prison in WA state with literature and historical review. 

Roets, Susan (2006). “Healthcare and Landscape Architecture: Investigation and Design at an Assisted Living Home to Promote Healthy Aging.” Master of Landscape Architecture Thesis, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY. 
Click here or on the title above to link to a pdf of the thesis.

Sadler, Charles King (2007). “Design Guidelines for Effective Hospice Gardens Using Japanese Garden Principles.” Master of Landscape Architecture Thesis, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY. 
Click here or on the title above to link to a pdf of the thesis.

Vapaa, Annalisa Gartman (2002). “Healing Gardens: Creating Places for Restoration, Meditation, and Sanctuary. What are the defining characteristics that make a healing garden?” Master of Landscape Architecture Thesis for Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Click here or on the title above to link to a pdf of the thesis..

Wrote a Thesis? Share It With Others!

I got an email last week from a landscape architecture student who is writing a thesis on therapeutic landscapes. She’s in the midst of her literature review, and though the Therapeutic Landscapes Database lists several theses, most of these are unpublished and not in digital format (with a couple exceptions). Sometimes schools keep copies, but they are often difficult to get ahold of once they’ve been filed away. What a shame, all that good work sitting on a shelf somewhere. It should be more easily accessible so that we can share information and learn from each other.

So, I’m putting the call out:

If you have written a masters thesis or a Ph.D. dissertation related to the subject of therapeutic landscapes, please email me an electronic version, as well as the full citation, and I will list it on the TLD References page. You can also contact me by posting a comment to this blog. Thanks, Nancy, for getting the ball rolling!

Education in Healthcare Design

Many people email us asking us about educational opportunities in the field of landscape architecture and healthcare design. Here is the beginning of a list:

Certificate Programs

1. Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate of Merit Program
Chicago Botanic Garden Glencoe, IL
8 day program, March 26 – April 2, 2008
Potential students may also enroll for the first day only, meant to be a one-day seminar for participants to receive an introduction to Healthcare Garden Design on March 26.

Contact: Amelia Simmons-Hurt Manager, Certificate Programs
Ph: 847.835.8293
Fax: 847.835.6865
email: school

Chicago Public Radio recently did a program on the course: Coming from Public Health/

2. University of Washington Extension Certificate Program in Therapeutic Gardens
Next program begins Fall 2008

Landscape Architecture Programs (for BLA, MLA, or PhD)

1. Texas A & M University Certificate in Health Systems and Design
Texas A & M University, College of Architecture, 3137 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-3137

This is probably the most comprehensive program in the country at this time, with a strong focus on empirical research and evidence-based design.

2. Michigan State University, Department of Landscape Architecture, MLA degree specialty in Therapeutic Site Design
The degree is a Masters in Environmental Design
with a Specialty in Therapeutic Site Design. It is intended to be a second professional degree program, but second professional degree is widely interpreted to include individuals from the medical arts as well as design/planning.

Faculty member Dr. Joanne Westphal is also offering a 2 credit lecture, 1 credit studio course in Therapeutic Site Design this winter. It is intended that students not on the MSU campus will be able to take the course, on-line.

3. Professor Emeritus Clare Cooper Marcus has been teaching a class at the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley

4. Colorado State University has an undergraduate program in Landscape Architecture, and has recently added a degree program in Horticultural Therapy which will begin this fall. This offers an excellent combination for students who may be interested both in design and HT (see below for more on HT).

5. The University of Washington, with Landscape Architecture Professor Daniel Winterbottom as a tireless advocate, often offers studios, including design/build, with a focus on therapeutic gardens. Several projects, including Cancer Lifeline, Incarnation Children’s Center, Pete Gross House, and the University of Washington Medical Center Healing Garden can be viewed on the UW LA program’s website: Several more projects, including Bedford Hills Prison and Guatemala, will be added soon.

Other avenues:

  • The Landscape and Human Health Laboratory (LHHL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign “a multidisciplinary research laboratory dedicated to studying the connection between greenery and human health:

Horticultural Therapy:

  • The American Horticultural Therapy Association has links to numerous universities and institutions that offer training in horticultural therapy, many of which may be useful from a design perspective:
  • Temple University is currently offering three courses on Horticultural Therapy in preparation for the AHTA Certificate Program.
  • Rutgers University and the University of Maine also offer undergraduate programs.
  • Kansas State offers undergraduate and graduate programs in HT, and possibly a correspondence course.
  • Colorado State