Upcoming talk by Topher Delaney: “Garden: An Act of Faith.”

Looks to be a good talk by garden artist Topher Delaney on Tuesday, May 4, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
This talk is NOT at Arnold Arboretum – it’s at Trinity Church.
Details below.

Here’s the blurb from the Arnold Arboretum’s newsletter:

“A garden is in essence the consequence of action. To make a garden is to invest in the future. The verb, ‘to garden,’ references physical action (and an) evocation of a faith in the future.” Artist’s statement

At the age of 39, Topher Delaney, a San Francisco-based artist and landscape designer, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ms. Delaney made a pact with God: If she survived, she vowed she would devote her practice to helping others heal. Over the past twenty-two years, Ms. Delaney has focused on creating designs of healing gardens for hospitals and sanctuaries. She believes “gardens are sanctuaries, hallowed places of personal retreat.” Topher Delaney’s projects explore cultural interpretations of landscape architecture, site installation, and public art. Her project sites range in scale from intimate to expansive, from private residences to medical facilities to corporate rooftop gardens and large-scale public art installations. Her gardens at the Marin Cancer Center and the San Diego Children’s Hospital demonstrate the palpably healing character of her creations. Learn more by visiting her website.

Fee $20 Arboretum and Trinity members, $25 nonmember

Tickets may be purchased in person or on the phone: 617-536-0944 X225. On-line tickets

This lecture takes place at Trinity Church, 206 Clarendon Street in Copley Square, Boston. Offered by the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Trinity Church in the City of Boston.

This Friday! Horticultural Society of NY presents Horticultural Therapy Partnership Forum, Food 4 Thought

Image courtesy of HSNY

This Friday, 3/12, the Horticultural Society of New York presents its 4th Annual Horticultural Therapy Partnership Forum, “Food 4 Thought.” What a great line-up! I’m so excited to get to meet and hear from all of these amazing people. Click HERE to link to the HSNY info and registration page.

Morning topics and speakers are:

  • “Horticultural Therapy at the Rikers Island,” with Hilda Krus, HTR, Director of GreenHouse, HSNY
  • “Horticultural Therapy for People Living with HIV/AIDS,” with Liza Watkins of Bailey Holt House and Sandra Power of the Horticultural Therapy Institute

An afternoon panel will be moderated by Ronnit Bendavid-Val, Director of Citywide Horticulture, NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation. Panelist topics and presenters include:

  • “Urban Farming, Farm Stands, & Markets,” with Jane Hodge, City Farms Manager, Just Food and Rev. Robert Jackson, Co-founder of Brooklyn Rescue Mission
  • “Horticulture Across Generations,” with Arthur Sheppard, Goddard Riverside
  • “Partnering Medical & Social Research,” with Anne Wiesen, Co-founder & Executive Director of Meristem and Naomi Sachs, Founder & Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network
  • “Physical Therapy and Gardening,” with Karen Washington, Physical Therapist, President of NYC Community Gardens Coalition, and Co-founder of La Familia Verde Gardens Coalition.

Anne Wiesen, my co-presenter, is also the co-editor of the book Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-Being through Urban Landscapes,” which you can read a review of on this blog post.

This forum is one of several great upcoming events. I haven’t had the chance to blog about each and every one, so please visit the “Upcoming Events” area (right-hand column, about half-way down) to see what’s going on in your area (geographically or professionally). And as always, if you have events that you want others to know about, contact the TLN and we’ll get it posted.

Image courtesy of HSNY

Daffodil Days with the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days program is now underway, through early this month (March – exact dates vary by location). The ACS has been holding this particular fundraising campaign for over 35 years. Over the last 15 years, Daffodil Days has raised more than $240 million in gross revenue to support the ACS.

Why daffodils?

“As the first flower of spring, the daffodil represents hope and renewal. To the American Cancer Society, the daffodil symbolizes the hope we all share for a future where cancer no longer threatens those we love.”

How it works: You order bunches of daffodils through the ACS now, and they are then delivered to friends, family members, and people touched by cancer in mid-March. And/or you can send a Gift of Hope, a bouquet of ten daffodil stems, in a vase, that gets delivered as an anonymous gift from you to cancer patients in communities across the country. Daffodil Days options (dates, bouquets offered, etc.) vary by location, so click on the map for your specific community. You can also volunteer to help out with coordinating and delivering – see the website for that, too.

To learn more, get involved, or order up bunches of daffodils that will brighten someone’s day and help fight cancer, visit the Daffodils Days website, especially the FAQ’s page, or call the ACS directly: 1.800.ACS.2345.

Project Bud Burst – Be a Citizen Scientist!

Photo of flowering dogwood by Henry Domke

At this time of year, one sure-fire way to get yourself (and others) outside is to look for signs of spring. And like the Great Backyard Bird Count, Project BudBurst empowers us to become “citizen scientists,” observing the phenology, or recurring first phases, of plants.

For a good explanation of phenology, see Shawn Moriarty’s blog post, “How do you know it is spring?” A phenophase is the first phase of a plant’s cycle (first leaf, leaves unfolding, first flower, etc.).
By reporting when we see what, we contribute valuable environmental and climate change information. So go ahead, get out there, and get your kids and students and parents out there, too! It’s a great way to learn about the environment, connect to nature, and contribute to science, all at the same time.
Thanks to the Grass Stain Guru for her post about Project BudBurst; that’s how I found out about it, so thanks, Bethe!

Get Ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Image courtesy of Henry Domke

It’s almost here, the event you’ve been waiting for:
The Great Backyard Bird Count.

This annual four-day event, this year February 12-15, engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy.

This joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon helps scientists to learn all kinds of important information about birds. It’s also a great way to get kids interested in nature right in their backyard. Visit the special page for children to learn more. You can also click HERE to find out about events in your area, or you can download the regional checklist and count on your own.

For more information on how to participate, visit the Great Backyard Bird Count website.

Upcoming Talk in NYC: Restorative Landscapes

The New York ASLA is hosting a presentation on Restorative Landscapes this month (1/14), with speakers Jack Carman, Nancy Chambers, and Naomi Sachs (that’s me!). The three of us will talk about “the power of designed outdoor spaces to relieve stress and promote healing.”

I’m honored to be in such good company. Jack is president of Design for Generations, a landscape architecture and planning firm that focuses on designing therapeutic outdoor environments for seniors, and he has just published the book Re-Creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging, which I reviewed last month (and year…). He is also a member of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Advisory Board. Nancy Chambers is the Director of the most comprehensive horticultural therapy program in the country, the Enid Haupt Glass Garden at the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitative Medicine. The Glass Garden is a terrific resource for designers and horticultural therapists, right in the heart of NYC. Nancy is also on the Faculty of the New York Botanical Garden and Chicago Botanic Garden.

Please join us on January 14th, 6:30 p.m., at the Arsenal, 5th Avenue & 65th Street. $15.00 for members, $20.00 for non-members; you can pay cash at the door or RSVP at Dirtworks, PC is sponsoring the event, and there will be refreshments served after the talk.

See you there!

Tomorrow! Making Space for Therapeutic Horticulture

Image courtesy of Anne Dailey

If you are a horticultural therapist or a designer of healing gardens and other restorative outdoor environments and you live in or near NYC, don’t walk – run – to this tomorrow:

“Making Space for Therapeutic Horticulture”
Therapeutic Horticulture Network Group Meeting
Friday, November 13, 1-4 pm

“Making space for therapeutic horticulture – at our institutions, on our grounds, and in our busy schedules – can be a challenge. Come prepared to share your stories about making space for therapeutic horticulture in your work. There will be lots of time for networking, so don’t forget to bring your business cards!”

At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue between Parkway and Empire Blvd.

The afternoon will feature networking activities and will include brief presentations on local therapeutic horticulture projects. Refreshments will be served throughout the meeting.

Thanks to Anne Wiesen, the beautiful brains behind the Restorative Commons, for sending information about this meeting.

Upcoming Talk (and a PBS show!) by Esther Sternberg

If you liked my interview with Esther Sternberg about her excellent book Healing Spaces: The Science and Place of Well-Being last month, here’s your chance to see and hear her in person:

Dr. Sternberg will be speaking at Trinity Church in Boston, MA on Sunday, November 8th. See details in the Arnold Arboretum press release below.

Sternberg is also going to be hosting the PBS show called “The Science of Healing.” It airs in Washington, D.C. on November 28th and will probably air repeatedly after that, so check your local stations for dates and times. More on her website,

Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being

Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., Chief of Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behavior and Director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program National Institute of Mental Health
1 Session
Sun Nov 8 2:00–3:30pm [Trinity Church]
Can a pleasant view speed healing? In this lecture, Dr. Esther Sternberg will present the science of mind-body connections and human perception as it relates to place. Using examples from her book, Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being, to explain the neurobiology of the senses, she will explore how a theme park, concert hall, cathedral, labyrinth, or garden can trigger or reduce stress, induce anxiety or instill peace. Dr. Sternberg will provide clues to how and why we respond to our surroundings that could influence the places we create in the future.

Fee $10 members, $15 nonmembers
Register for this class online or by phone/mail.

Co-sponsored by the Arnold Arboretum and Trinity Church in the City of Boston

Blog Action Day ’09: Climate Change and the Nature of Nature

Today is Blog Action Day, and the subject of this year’s Blog Action Day is Climate Change.

Hm, what do therapeutic landscapes have to do with climate change…? Well, apart from the obvious (green spaces mitigating the built environment), here are some thoughts:

Why is nature, and our interaction with it, so restorative? Erich Fromm, and then E. O. Wilson, called it “biophilia,” the attraction to life. Research by environmental psychologists has shown repeatedly that people respond especially well to plants and water. The more heavily planted the garden, the more positive the outcome for the users (in other words, people using the garden feel better when there is more, rather than less, plant material). The ideal ratio is 60% softscape (plants) to 40% hardscape (paving, etc.). The presence of water also seems to have a positive effect on people.  

Of all of the elements of nature, why especially plants and water? Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:  

We know, intuitively, that we need nature – and especially air (oxygen), plants, and water – in order to survive. And thus we experience them as beautiful, and comforting, and inspiring. Being in the presence of plants and water makes us feel good because we know that they sustain us. They don’t need us (in fact, they would be better off without us, by all accounts). But without them, we would quickly perish. Without oxygen, water, and plants, our planet would not be earth, that beautiful blue sphere that you can see all the way from the moon. Plants are living, breathing things. They not only symbolize life; they are alive. And through their living and breathing – as they breathe, taking our carbon dioxide and replenishing it with oxygen – we breathe and are sustained. And one big thing that we have in common with plants: they, too, need water in order to survive and thrive. Which is maybe why we respond so positively to water, its sound, sight, even smell and taste. Water = life.  

To most people, plants and water are beautiful because they embody life. And in a world where there is a goodly amount of ugliness, pain and suffering, beauty is a comfort because it reminds us that life is worth living. Beauty is comfort and inspiration because beauty is life.

Dirtworks’ David Kamp on “Nature for Everyone” at NYBG

Image courtesy of Dirtworks, PC

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) has a great lineup for their Landscape Design Portfolio series this fall.

On October 26th, David Kamp, Principal of Dirtworks, PC will lecture on “Nature for Everyone.” David will begin with an overview of the concept of creating restorative spaces and will then outline the collaborative approach used to incorporate nature, healing, and design. It will also explore specific site design issues unique to “special needs” populations. Several internationally recognized projects will be presented, notably the Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden and the Keene State College Natural Sciences Courtyard. Dirtworks has been a long-standing member of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, listing their firm with our Designers and Consultants Directory.

The next talk, on November 2nd, is Walter Hood on “Sampling and Enmeshing the Urban Landscape.” I admire Walter’s work because not only are his designs aesthetically pleasing and intellectually stimulating, they are also humanly functional; he has a knack for listening to the clients and the community he’s designing for. Walter recently won the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in the category of Landscape Design.

For 90 years, The New York Botanical Garden ( has been helping people achieve their horticultural education goals. Many students are career changers who come to the Garden from a variety of occupations including marketing, information technology, law, and medicine to explore horticulture job opportunities. The Garden offers 500 different courses each year comprising seven certificate programs.

All lectures are at Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue, New York, NY on October 26, 2009. For more information on The New York Botanical Garden, please visit or call 718-817-8700.

The image above is of the Natural Science Center Courtyard at Keene State College in Keene, NH