Happy National Horticultural Therapy Week!

Eastern redbud. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Eastern redbud, Atlanta, GA, March 2011. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Greetings from Atlanta, GA! Environments for Aging started today (Sunday) and I flew in a couple days early to visit my 94-year-old great-aunt, Stefanie. She embodies a person who is aging joyfully, in a wonderful Continuing Care Retirement Community just outside of Atlanta – Park Springs, in Stone Mountain. But more on that another time. Today, I want to talk about National Horticultural Therapy Week, which started today.

Horticultural Therapy (HT) uses plants, gardens, and other aspects of nature to improve people’s social, spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) website, it is “the engagement of a person in gardening-related activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific treatment goals.” And from Rebecca Haller, HTM, “Horticultural therapy is a professionally conducted client-centered treatment modality that utilizes horticulture activities to meet specific therapeutic or rehabilitative goals of its participants. The focus is to maximize social, cognitive, physical and/or psychological functioning and/or to enhance general health and wellness” (from the Horticultural Therapy Institute website).

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network has an HT page where you can find links to relevant organizations (including the American Horticultural Therapy Association, the Canadian HTA, and the German Association for Horticulture and Therapy, as well as the Horticultural Therapy Institute) and resources online and in print. The AHTA publishes a very fine peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, and that alone is worth every penny of AHTA membership. Any designer or researcher involved in this area of the field should really be a member of this organization.

Which brings me to an announcement about AHTA’s fall conference, which will be in Asheville, NC from 10/21-10/23/2011. Call for submission is open until April 15 – have something you think would be interesting to horticultural therapist regarding HT, research, case studies, design, or work experience? Give it a shot! The conferences are always good for learning and networking. For more info, visit the AHTA website, www.ahta.org.

Today one of the tours at Environments for Aging was of Wesley Woods Center, a specialty geriatric care component of Emory Healthcare with a 64-acre campus with an excellent HT program. Because of schedule conflicts, I wasn’t be able to attend the group tour today (which I heard rave reviews about), but I will have the good fortune of getting a private tour with horticultural therapist (HTR) Kirk Hines on Wednesday afternoon. I’m looking forward to finally meeting Kirk in person, after many years of email correspondence, and to sharing what I learn on the blog.

So enjoy this week, National Horticultural Therapy week; take some time to learn about it, perhaps even take advantage of an event in your community or region being organized by AHTA or one of their many regional chapters.

And as always, I’ll be posting “live” from the Environments for Aging Conference on Monday and Tuesday via the TLN Facebook page (facebook.com/therapeuticlandscapes) and Twitter (@healinggarden).

Horticutural Therapy at Wesley Woods. Kirk Hines, HTR/Wesley Woods Hospital of Emoryhealthcare

Horticutural Therapy at Wesley Woods. Kirk Hines, HTR/Wesley Woods Hospital of Emoryhealthcare

EDRA Great Places Awards – Call for Entries

EDRA Great Places Awards


The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) is now accepting submissions for the 13th Annual Great Places Awards for Place Design, Planning and Research.

EDRA’s Great Places Awards are unique among programs that recognize professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design. They are distinguished by their interdisciplinary focus, concern for human factors in the design of the built environment, and a commitment to promoting links between design research and practice.

Entries are welcome from the full breadth of environmental design and related research activities, including architecture, landscape architecture, planning, urban design, interior design, lighting design, graphic design, environmental psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography and the physical sciences. Projects should emphasize a link between research and practice, demonstrating how an understanding of human interaction with place can inspire design.

A panel of distinguished jurors will select winners from four categories: place design, place planning, place research, and a book prize. This year’s jurors include: Leon Bridges, FAIA, AIA , Lecturer, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Morgan State University; Sidney N. Brower, Professor, Urban Studies and Planning, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland; Mark Cameron, Executive Director, Neighborhood Design Center; Carol Macht, ASLA, Senior Principal, Hord Coplan Macht; Glenn LaRue Smith, Assistant Professor, Graduate Landscape Architecture Department, School of Architecture and Planning, Morgan State University; and Patricia Zingsheim,  AIA, CPM, Associate Director of Revitalization and Design, D.C. Office of Planning.

For submission guidelines, rules and official entry form visit www.edra.org. All entries for the 2011 Great Places Awards must be received by February 11, 2011.

On the Horizon – Conferences with Calls for Proposals

Konza Prairie panorama. Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

Konza Prairie Panorama by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

Many of the design and health conferences are held in the fall, which means that many proposals are due soon – in less than month, in fact! Here’s a list of conferences that you might want to submit proposals for, as well as a couple where proposal deadlines are either past or not yet posted but that you should mark on your calendar. Conferences are listed in order in which proposals are due:

USGBC Greenbuild Conference and Expo, October 4-7, 2011, Toronto, Canada. Submission deadline is Friday, January 14, 2011. Register to submit on the USGBC website.

ASLA – American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting and EXPO, October 30-November 2, 2011, San Diego, CA. Education session proposal deadline is January 21, 2011. Surveys show that the top reason attendees register for the annual meeting is the education program. Visit our web site to submit your online proposal: www.asla-education.scsubmissions.com/index.aspx.

HCD11 – HealthcareDesign 2011, November 13–16, 2011, Nashville, TN.
Presentation proposal deadline is January 21, 2011 at 5 pm Pacific time.
HealthcareDesign is a four-day event that provides expert insight into the design, architecture, and engineering of healthcare environments, delivering authoritative and timely content to inform, engage, and shape the industry. Submit your presentation online at data.healthdesign.org.

Open Space People Space Conference, June 27-29, 2011, Edinburgh, Scotland. Abstracts due no later than January, 31, 2011.
The theme this year is “Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors,” a conference on research into inclusive outdoor environments for all. Stay tuned for another blog post with more information about this conference, but in the meantime, visit their website, www.openspace.eca.ac.uk.

9th Biennial Conference on Environmental Psychology, September 26-28, 2011, Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Abstract submission deadline is March 20, 2011. Early bird registration deadline is May 15, 2011. See www.envpsych2011.eu for more information.
Contributions from all areas of environmental psychology are welcome. Key topics include the built and natural environment, conservation behavior and sustainability, environmental perception and decision making, environmental risks and stress, methods and theories in environment-behavior research, and restoration and health.

EDRA (Environmental Design Research Association), May 25-28, 2011, Chicago, IL.
Deadline for proposals has passed, but there’s still plenty of time to register. Visit the EDRA website (www.edra.org) for details.

AHTA – American Horticultural Therapy Association, October 20-21, Asheville, NC. No information up yet on on their website, www.ahta.org, but we’ll announce it when we find out more.

Know of another conference that we should be announcing? Leave a comment on this post, or contact us!

Educational Opportunity: Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden birches. Photo by Naomi Sachs

See that brick building in the background? That's your classroom (thus this is your view).

Every spring, the Chicago Botanic Garden holds an intensive 8-day Healthcare Garden Design Certificate of Merit Program, right on its beautiful campus. It is one of the few healthcare garden design certificate programs in the world and is an excellent way for students and professionals interested in this area of the field to really dive in. Instructors include experts such as Roger Ulrich, Clare Cooper Marcus, Teresia Hazen and many more (see the website for a full list of faculty. This will be my first year teaching there, about research – how to find the information you’re looking for when designing therapeutic gardens).

The first day of the program, on May 4th, is also available as a one-day seminar: Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness.

Registration is still open, but slots fill up quickly (they had a waiting list last year), so hurry!

Note: For information on other educational opportunities, see the Education page on the Therapeutic Landscapes Network website. And if you know of a program that isn’t on that page, please let us know.

Healthcare Garden Design Certificate of Merit Program

When: May 4-11, 2011
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe (near Chicago), IL

Healthcare garden design is an emerging area of specialization in which several professions converge to create environments of care. In this professional development program, attendees will discover the many ways gardens provide verifiable health benefits for their patients, staff, and visitors. The multidisciplinary program introduces the latest research in healthcare garden design, demonstrating the benefits of healthcare gardens while providing participants with the expertise, knowledge, and tools to effectively design, manage, and evaluate such gardens. These garden environments of care maximize the effectiveness of clinical treatments for illness and disabilities, and create passive garden experiences that significantly reduce staff stress and absenteeism, improve patient health, increase client satisfaction, and strengthen the bottom line.


Call for Papers! Environmental Design Research Association

I had such a good time at the ASLA conference last week. Saw many beautiful and moving landscapes, learned a ton, and met lots of great people. Two of those great people were from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), an organization that I’ve long admired. In a nutshell, they undertake and share research on all kinds of environmental design (see their full mission statement below). Their next conference will be in May in Chicago, and the call for papers is still open. But not for much longer, so get in gear and submit! And even if you don’t submit a paper, mark the conference as one to attend. Thanks to Executive Director Kate O’Donnell for this write-up:

The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) is currently accepting proposals for paper and display presentations for its 42nd Annual Conference—but hurry, the deadline to submit is Friday, October 1. Click here for the official Call for Papers.  Don’t miss your opportunity to join the world’s leading place-focused researchers and practitioners for new knowledge and tools, information on funding sources, and partnerships with design practitioners.

When EDRA meets in Chicago next May, the ideas of tomorrow will be identified, discussed and disseminated. EDRA members focus professionally on how forms of physical environments affect our lives and work to answer questions such as:

  • What is the psychological experience of working in a green building?
  • How do natural pastoral settings impact the lives of people living with dementia?
  • What classroom design features enhance elementary school age children’s academic performance?
  • What makes a home welcoming?  Supportive?  Culturally appropriate?
  • How can urban designers create places where individuals and groups flourish?
  • Why do we travel through forests or parks the way that we do?  Why does how we navigate through a space matter?
  • How should place experiences be investigated and how should knowledge gained be reflected in physical forms?

At EDRA, researchers and practitioners work together to create places where people thrive. For more information, visit www.edra.org.

EDRA Mission Statement: The Environmental Design Research Association is an international, interdisciplinary organization founded in 1968 by design professionals, social scientists, students, educators, and facility managers. The purpose of edra is the advancement and dissemination of environmental design research, thereby improving understanding of the interrelationships between people, their built and natural surroundings, and helping to create environments responsive to human needs.

An Amazing Opportunity – TKF Foundation Capstone Awards

Summer Sky by Henry Domke

Photo by Henry Domke, www.HenryDomke.com

The TKF Foundation‘s mission is “to provide the opportunity for a deeper human experience by inspiring and supporting the creation of public greenspace that offers a temporary place of sanctuary, encourages reflection, provides solace, and engenders peace and well being.” TKF does amazing work. They have funded over 120 projects in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, and now they are embarking on a new project, the National Demonstration Site and Research Challenge Awards Initiative. I hope that some of you will apply, and please also help spread the word. This really is an amazing opportunity, from which all of us will benefit.

TKF Announces New Capstone Awards

National Demonstration Site and Research Challenge Awards Initiative
We are living in a time of crisis when the press of urban congestion and technology threaten our human wellbeing.  In the 21st century, as the pace of life has accelerated, our relationship with the land, with each other and with our inner selves has diminished. TKF believes that a critical part of what today’s communities cry out for is the peace of a Walden Pond in every neighborhood and the awe-inspiring power of trees outside our windows. Through many years of involvement in environmental and public greening advocacy, we have found that the language of the spirit has been silenced. We seek to restore that voice to the public discourse.

While we know intuitively and anecdotally that nature heals, unifies and uplifts the human spirit, TKF believes there is a growing need to complement these insights with empirical evidence in order to gain wider acceptance, advance understanding, influence policy, and effect systems change.

Beginning in 2012, TKF will begin awarding challenge grants of up to $1 million to applicants who seek to create a new Open Space Sacred Place and to study aspects of the impact on the human spirit of the opportunity to be in nature.  Open to qualified applicants from across the United States, this program is designed to inspire non-profit organizations, professional associations, educational institutions, municipalities and community-based groups from a range of perspectives to come together in interdisciplinary teams to create new public green spaces and to implement a significant research or evaluation component. Through these awards and the ensuing research and communication of findings, we seek to build a body of useful information and evidence about the impact of Open Spaces Sacred Places on the human spirit that can be shared to create greater public understanding and support of the benefits of  nature to individual and community wellbeing. Our goal is to encourage all types of practitioners, policy makers and opinion leaders — from community activists to environmental advocates to city planners and including doctors, philosophers, journalists, social scientists and theologians among many others — to think broadly about the role and importance of nature in every life and to take concrete steps to make access to nature.

As a first step, later this year we will convene a National Advisory Panel, to help us better understand the kinds of questions from the field that need study and the ways that research could be most helpful in advancing a variety of missions that intersect in the realm of nature, spirit and individual and community wellbeing. We anticipate that the output of the panel’s work will provide important context and inspiration for the Demonstration Site and Research projects and for many others already working in related fields. For more information, click here.

Rachel Carson ‘Sense of Wonder’ Contest

Rachel CarsonThis looks like a beautiful opportunity. I love the intergenerational aspect:

Rachel Carson Intergenerational Poetry, Essay, Photo and Dance Contest

Sponsored by US EPA, Generations United, the Rachel Carson Council, Inc. and the Dance Exchange

In 2007, the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s life.  She was an American biologist who cared deeply about the natural world around her. In The Sense of  Wonder, Ms. Carson wrote “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after the night and spring after the winter.” And it is also important to remember how nature can serve as a source of strength, as she noted with the comment from the book, that, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

To honor this amazing woman, the EPA, Generations United, The Dance Exchange and the Rachel Carson Council, Inc., are sponsoring the Fourth Annual Rachel Carson Intergenerational photo, essay,  poetry and dance contest “that best expresses the Sense of Wonder that you feel for the sea, the night sky, forests, birds, wildlife, and all that is beautiful to your eyes.” We want you to share this love of nature with a child and others around you.  When we teach our eyes and ears and senses to focus on the wonders of nature, we open ourselves to the wonders around us.

Submissions are due June 16, 2010.  The finalists will be selected by a panel of judges. Then the public will be asked to vote for their favorites in each category: photography, essay, poetry and dance. Entries must be intergenerational projects involving persons from different ages and generations. The winners will be posted on our websites and announced in October.



www.epa.gov/aging (this is the correct link now – sorry to those of you who tried it before, and ditto with the one below. Thanks to one of our readers for pointing this out!).

For more information please see: www.epa.gov/aging/resources/thesenseofwonder/index.htm

If you know of someone who might be interested, please share this blog post!

A Network Growing Strong: 1,000 members on Facebook!


Web photo by Henry Domke

As of today, the Therapeutic Landscapes Network has over 1,000 members on Facebook. Cue balloons falling from the ceiling and champagne cork popping!

Why is this such a big deal, other than being a nice big round number? Because we are creating a truly interactive, dynamic network, that’s why.

Ever since I first started the Therapeutic Landscapes Database back in 1999, I have wanted to create a “forum” – a sort of virtual gathering space – for sharing information, questions, and ideas. This was also one of the goals for our new website, and we’ve been knocking ideas around about how to best create this forum. In the meantime, Facebook started these “pages” where businesses and organizations could have members, or fans, or likers…the name keeps changing but the idea is the same: A group of people who are connected around the same issue.

And so, at least for the time being, the TLN’s Facebook page has become that forum. In addition to seeing what the TLN posts – and we do post information, events, links to other good organizations, picture, and so on almost every day – here are some of the other ways you can use the FB page:

  • Share information: Post stuff (links to articles and organizations, pictures, questions, thoughts, inspirations) on the wall – all members (fans) can post.
  • Comment on other people’s posts – great way to share information, ideas, etc.
  • See related organizations – In the left-hand column, see our “favorite pages” section for other like-minded organizations such as the Children & Nature Network, Horticultural Therapy Institute, the National Wildlife Federation.

So if you haven’t already joined us, please do. Believe me, I have my own issues with Facebook, especially with their new privacy policy, but for now, it is the best “forum” venue for us.

If you still don’t want to join Facebook, here are some other ways you can still be an active participant in the TLN:

1. Join our mailing list so that you get our monthly newsletter;

2. Leave comments on this blog – comments are a great way to get a discussion/conversation going between blog readers;

3. Join our group on Land8Lounge, the social networking site for landscape architects and designers (anyone is welcome, that’s just who it’s geared towards);

4. Contact us directly.

Thanks to each and every one of our members for making the “Network” part of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s name real and meaningful. We can learn so much from each other.

And thanks to Henry Domke for this beautiful (and yes, symbolic) web image.

Naomi Sachs, Founder & Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network

AHTA Conference Request for Proposals – Due 4/15!

Photo of wild plum by Henry Domke

Proposals for this year’s American Horticultural Therapy Association’s conference, In Our Nature, are due soon – April 15th – so if you have something to say and you think others should hear it, get busy and submit your proposal. Last year’s conference was excellent – great speakers and poster presentations, wonderful tours, lots of networking opportunities. And this year, October 13-16, it’s in collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Garden. Click HERE to link to the AHTA conference page, where you can download the RFP.

Oh, and the Therapeutic Landscapes Network just sent out its March/April e-newsletter. It’s only available to members on our mailing list, so if you’d like to join (membership is free), click HERE. Thanks, and happy reading!

Hort Therapy in the Wall Street Journal…and Call for Papers!

Legacy Emanuel Children's Garden, mentioned in the article

In the Wall Street Journal today, a great article about horticultural therapy programs: “When Treatment Involves Dirty Fingernails,” by Anne Marie Chaker. Make sure to check out the slideshow online.

Here are two interesting statistics from the article: A 2005 study of 107 patients published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation indicated that cardiac rehabilitation patients in a one-hour gardening class clocked in lower heart rates and better dispositions than patients who received a generic patient-education class. Another study, published in 2008 in HortiTechnology, showed that 18 residents of an assisted-living facility showed a significant increase in self-rated health and happiness after participating in four horticulture classes.

And speaking of horticultural therapy, the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture has put out a call for papers for its next issue. Manuscripts may include research projects, case studies, program and services descriptions, therapeutic practice descriptions, therapeutic horticulture philosophies, therapeutic design project descriptions, relevant book reviews, and other related topics. See the AHTA website for more details and for the editor’s contact information. It’s an excellent opportunity to share what you know with others.