Upcoming Conference: ASLA’s “Beyond Sustainability: Regenerating Places and People.”

Photo of prairie in bloom courtesy Henry Domke Fine Art

It’s gonna be a good one! This year’s American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2009 Meeting and Expo, “Beyond Sustainability: Regenerating Places and People” looks to be one to attend, for sure. Chicago, with its myriad parks, and commitment to being a green city, has become a real a destination for landscape architects and designers. Heck, City Hall’s green roof and Millennium Park are reason enough to pay the windy city a visit. But Chicago also has lots of excellent examples of healing gardens and other therapeutic landscapes, and conference attendees will have the opportunity to see and experience several of those. Here are some conference highlights:
Okay, now for the promo: As Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, I’m excited to be moderating the Education Session on Saturday, “Healing Garden Evaluation and its Value to Professional Practice.” Two of the TLN’s Advisory Board members, Clare Cooper Marcus and Geoff Roehll will be presenting, as will landscape architect Marni Barnes, who worked with Clare on evaluating six of Hitchcock Design Group‘s healing gardens last year. Clare and Marni will present their evaluation methodology (which was basically a POE, or post-occupancy evaluation) and findings; Geoff will present how those findings have impacted the design of those and future spaces; and all four of us will talk about the implications of this kind of research for other healthcare design projects. Not to be missed!

Chicago is also home to the Chicago Botanic Garden, which boasts the Buehler Enabling Garden, a sensory garden, horticultural therapy programs, and one of the best Healthcare Garden Design certificate programs in the country.

See you in Chicago!

Royal Society of Medicine Conference: Therapeutic Environments

Spotted parsley image courtesy Henry Domke Fine Art

Thanks to the folks at the Royal Society of Medicine for letting us know about their upcoming 
“Therapeutic Environments” conference, on Thursday, May 7 in Birmingham, U.K.

Here’s the scoop:

The aim of the conference is to introduce health professionals to the history, practice, range and clinical effectiveness of therapeutic communities. These are environments in which people of all ages are helped to work through emotional, and sometimes physical, trauma that has affected their ability to live productive and creative lives. Many repeatedly engage in self-defeating and damaging behaviour, and this approach enables them to find new and more successful ways of engaging in social relationships with others. It has application in a wide variety of problem areas, from emotional and behavioural disturbance in children and young people, to addiction and adult mental illness. 

The Darzi Report, advocating high quality services for people requiring care in the National Health Service, argues that patients should have “a greater degree of control and influence” over their care, “making services fit for everyone’s needs”, and “care that is personal to them”. Therapeutic Communities do exactly this, in a variety of settings.

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!

Two great opportunities for LA’s to strut their stuff

Elizabeth & Nona Evans Restorative Garden. Image courtesy Dirtworks, PC

Have you designed or built a therapeutic landscape, or another type of landscape that facilitates health and wellness? If you’re a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), now’s your chance to be rewarded for your efforts. And we’ll all benefit because you will be raising awareness about landscapes for health.

Opportunity #1:
ASLA’s 2009 Call for Entries for their annual Professional Awards is now open – deadline is 2/5, so hurry up! Dirtworks, PC, David Kamp’s landscape architecture firm, won the 2006 Honor Award in General Design for the Elizabeth & Nona Evans Restorative Garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Cleveland, OH. This was a great way to put therapeutic landscapes in the spotlight. But 2006 was awhile ago, and people have short memories. The Therapeutic Landscapes Database won the Communications Award of Merit back in 2004, but no one can remember back that far (except the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and my parents, of course). 
So c’mon, designers, get your projects out there so we all can benefit.

Opportunity #2:
The Call for Presentations for ASLA’s 2009 Annual Meeting & Expo is now open. Have a project, or several projects, or an interesting subject, or a scintillating topic that you think your peers would like to know about (and can earn continuing education credits for)? Now’s your chance to submit your proposal for ASLA’s next meeting, to be held this year in September in Chicago, IL. 

Great Backyard Bird Count

Guest Blog by Theresa Loe of Garden Fresh Living

If you liked The Lost Ladybug Project, then you might like this as well…

The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up on February 13-16, 2009. This annual four-day event is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Its purpose is to create a comprehensive picture of where all kinds of birds are found during late winter and then compare that information with data collected from past years.  Apparently, scientists can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Since the birds are always moving, no team of scientist could ever hope to document the movements of so many species over a four day period. So they ask the public for help on these dates every year.

Anyone can participate, it only takes 15 minutes and it is especially fun for children. Participants count birds, record and submit their information and can also submit photos for a yearly contest. Visit their website for more details on how to participate. 

Photo Credit: This Northern Cardinal photo was the overall winner of the 2008 photo contest, Judy Howle, MS.

Thanks again to Theresa Loe of Garden Fresh Living for this guest blog posting!

Symposium on Healing Gardens in Senior Communities

Image courtesy Henry Domke Fine Art
Another symposium in the spring that looks great: “Healing Gardens: The Power and Practice of Nature in Senior Communities.” Thursday, April 23 at Medford Leas Continuing Care Retirement Community in Medford, New Jersey.

“Engaging older adults in horticultural activities, therapeutic gardens, and sensitively designed landscapes fosters a sense of well-being, promotes healing and adds value for residents. At this one-day workshop held on the Medford Campus, attendees will learn first-hand strategies for promoting the power of nature to advance wellness in senior communities.”

For more information and to register, click HERE to go to the Medford Leas website and then scroll down. Thanks, Jack Carman of Design for Generations for sending the announcement!

Environments for Aging .09 Conference

Oh, this is going to be a good one. Registration is open for the annual Environments for Aging conference (early registration ends January 15th), to be held next March 29-31 in Boston, MA. 

I’ve been looking over the program, and it’s so full of interesting-looking educational sessions, it’s going to be hard to choose which to attend for each time block. Here are three that piqued my interest right away: “Natural Spaces for Memory Support – A Closer Look at Dementia Gardens;” “Walking for Healthy Aging: Designing Communities to Support Walking Among Independent and Assisted Living Residents;” and “Healthy Outdoor Environments for the Aging.” Plus facilities tours, design awards, and other conference-y fare. Sounds good, no?

Have a conference or an event you think should be publicized? Leave a comment and I’ll post the information. That’s what the TLRC (Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center) is for.

Environments for Aging .09 – conference teaser

Stefanie enjoying her raised planter bed at her CCRC

But enough about kids. Let’s talk about the other end of the life spectrum: Our elders. There’s my great-aunt Stefanie, above, next to the raised flower bed at her CCRC (continuing care retirement community) in Stone Mountain, GA. Stefanie did not want to leave her home, especially her garden, where she had lived for over four decades. When she reached her late 80s, however, Stefanie – being the pragmatic person she is – found a CCRC in her beloved Atlanta that seemed like a good place to live out the rest of her years. She purchased an apartment at Park Springs, right next to Stone Mountain Park, and moved in a few years ago. The residents are free to use the park, including miles of hiking trails and golf facilities. For those who don’t want to venture quite so far, the 1/4- mile loop around the pond, below, is fully ADA-compliant. My great-aunt, now in her nineties, walks the loop four times on her daily mile-long constitutional. The grounds, while a bit manicured for my taste, are beautifully landscaped with plantings that offer year-round interest. A small wild area provides habitat for birds and other wildlife, and the site planners were careful to leave some mature trees on site, which makes the place look less sterile than some fully-bulldozed-and-newly-planted planned communities I’ve seen. Stefanie loves her raised flower bed, as do many of the other residents – despite the fact that each bed is shared by 2 to 4 residents, there’s still a waiting list. Some grow vegetables, others flowers for cutting, others plants and flowers transplanted from their home gardens. As the baby boomers enter retirement and retirement communities, we are seeing new trends in senior living. These folks do not want to give up their active lifestyles, their independence, and their autonomy, and why should they?  

Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about the upcoming Environments for Aging .09 conference, sure to be informative and perhaps even and inspiring. Stay tuned! 

Thanksgiving comes to the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center

An enormous THANK YOU to those who have donated to our fundraising campaign so far–this bouquet of thyme and sage is for you!

TLRC fundraising campaign: See that button on the right, just below van Gogh’s irises? That’s where you click to support the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center. Big changes are afoot here, and your support makes it happen. For nine years, the Therapeutic Landscapes Database has been a free, online informational resource for anyone and everyone interested in landscapes for health. Did you know that the TLD and Blog get over 5,000 hits a month? This is a valuable resource, used by people all over the world. We are now working on some important improvements that will enable us to make even more of a difference, including: 

1. Combining website and blog under one virtual roof; 
2. Providing an online forum so that members of this vibrant community can communicate directly with each other; 
3. Adding search functions; and
4. Adding lots more information and images. 

We can’t do it without the support of generous people like Betsy and others who have donated to the campaign so far. And we’ve still got a ways to go; so click on that lovely green button and donate. And again, to those who’ve given so far, an armload of flowers for you!

Our mission: The Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center provides information, education, and inspiration about healing gardens and other spaces that foster health and wellness through contact with nature. We serve a multidisciplinary community of designers, health and human service providers, scholars, and members of the general public, acting as a resource and a virtual gathering space where people can obtain and share information, inspire each other, and collaborate to design, build, fund, study, and benefit from therapeutic landscapes.

Upcoming Event: “A Verdant Psyche: The English Gardens of Jinny Blom”

If you can get to New York, Lake Forest, or Beverly Hills this month, this looks like a great event: “A Verdant Psyche: The English Gardens of Jinny Blom.” Part of the Royal Oak Foundation‘s Seed for Thought series, this event is of particular interest to us because Jinny Blom designed a healing garden with The Prince of Wales. Bet you didn’t know HRH even knew what a healing garden was! In fact, he is quite passionate about gardening and the healing power of nature. In one interview about the Chelsea Flower Show garden, Prince Charles said: “All my life I have wanted to heal things, whether it’s been the soil, the landscape or the soul.” You can read the Guardian article where that quote came from (“Charles Designs Healing Garden”), and here’s another one from the BBC News: “Charles Unveils Chelsea Garden.” 
Here’s what the Royal Oak Foundation says about Jinny Blom:
“Winner of both the Gold and Silver Gilt Medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, Jinny Blom has a growing reputation for her striking and thoughtful creations, such as the HEALING GARDEN designed with HRH The Prince of Wales. She has also created designs for the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre and a 1920s garden featured in the film The Hours.”
You can also visit her website:
If you go to the talk in New York, perhaps I’ll see you there!