Holiday shopping: Gifts from the TLN Store

TLN Store screenshot

Still looking for holiday gifts? The Therapeutic Landscapes Network Store has many choices, including mugs, tote bags, mousepads, Sigg water bottles, magnets, and clothing, all sporting our beautiful Echinacea “mascot” (thank you, Henry Domke!).

All proceeds go to support the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, and all gifts are guaranteed to bring good cheer.


Hurrah! ‘Access to Nature for Older Adults’ Wins ASLA Award

Access to Nature for Older Adults

Photo by Susan Rodiek

The 2010 ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Awards have been announced, and one of the winners is the excellent new DVD series, “Access to Nature for Older Adults: Promoting Health Through Landscape Design.” Yea! We’ve blogged about this DVD series before, and we’re so pleased that ASLA agrees that it’s a valuable educational and design tool. Here’s what the jury had to say:

“Many of the features that were found beneficial, if included in all landscape design activity, would result in superior design and experience for us all. Improving our interactions with our world and better mental health all around! Talks about landscape design specific to an older population, proving a point of the importance of landscape architects. It sets up a design hypothesis that is in need of proving. Everything it applies to older population also applies to everyone. The research has a much broader application than just the elderly population.”
—2010 Professional Awards Jury

And to celebrate, TLN members get a 15% discount off any or all three Access to Nature DVDs. You don’t even need to be an official TLN member (though we’d love it if you were: Join online – it’s free!). If you are a designer, or an administrator, or a health and human service provider, or an educator, or a student, or someone with parents or grandparents (hm, that would be everybody), you should buy this award-winning DVD series.

To order your Access to Nature DVDs with the 15% discount, visit the Access to Nature website, ( and at the checkout, enter the promotional code TLNA2N. If for some reason that code doesn’t work, try TLNA2Na (same code but with a lower-case “a” at the end). The website is also chock-full of good information, so it’s a good one to bookmark.

Access to Nature DVDs

This is actually the fourth award for Access to Nature series: It received the 2009 Environment + Design Award from CEAL – The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living, and an early prototype of the Access to Nature program also won the Active Place Design Competition award in product design from EDRA, the Environmental Design Research Association, and a Viewer’s choice award from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Congratulations again to Susan Rodiek and her team at Texas A & M University; keep up the good work, and thanks for extending the discount to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network!

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.

The TLN Store is Now Open!

The TLN Store is up and running!

The virtual doors have been flung open, the shopping carts are waiting to be stuffed, the products are poised to fly off the shelves. So stop in, do your holiday shopping, and tell a friend or two or three. All proceeds go to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network. Thank you, and happy shopping!

Our beautiful echinacea “mascot” is courtesy of (and copyright) Henry Domke – many thanks, Henry.

Green Walls for Healing Gardens


Patrick Blanc's 'Mur Vegetal' in Paris -Quai Branly

Patrick Blanc's 'Mur Vegetal' in Paris -Quai Branly

One of the key elements of a healing garden – a garden designed to facilitate and even improve people’s health and well-being – is a high ration of plant material (“softscape”) to paving, walls, stairs, etc. (“hardscape”). More plants, less paving.

And especially if we’re talking about hospitals and other healthcare facilities, which is where healing gardens are needed most, people like a lot of softness and greenery to balance out the hard, sterile surfaces indoors. People also prefer a feeling of enclosure – it makes them feel safe and secure, and can delineate spaces for private reflection and conversation.

So, what better design element than a green, living wall? Patrick Blanc made a big splash with his (absolutely gorgeous) vertical gardens a few years ago, and since then, the market for green walls has exploded. I’ve been surprised at how slowly it’s catching on in the healthcare environment. Seriously, wouldn’t it be great if all of the hospitals and clinics and hospices and nursing homes had soft, green, living vertical surfaces instead of concrete walls and vinyl fences and strange partitions that don’t really work in delineating space?

Image courtesy Annabel Harrold from Echo Studio's post on Blanc

Image courtesy Annabel Harrold from Echo Studio's post on Blanc

Another plus about vertical gardens: They are easily accessible to just about everyone. Whether you’re standing on two feet or wheeling in a wheelchair or a stroller, the plants are at your height where you can reach out to touch and smell, or even to garden in. What a fantastic tool for horticultural therapists!

Here’s an example of a custom-designed wall by Hitchcock Design Group for a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Hyde Park, Chicago:

Hitchcock Design Group green wall. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Hitchcock Design Group green wall. Photo by Naomi Sachs

If you’re interested in the confluence of plants and architecture, definitely check out Jason King’s blog Veg.itecture (their tagline is “investigating green architecture.”).

And if you know of any healthcare facilities with vertical green walls – fixed or freestanding – please leave a comment. We’re trying to build a list for the Therapeutic Landscapes Network.

Here’s one last image, from a new company called Woolly Pocket Garden Company. Check out their blog. I especially like the posts about the Edible Staircase and the Edible Schoolyard, two programs with kids in Los Angeles schools.

Green wall image courtesy of Woolly Pockets

Image courtesy of Woolly Pockets

Forget the chocolate, gimme a tree

Redbud image courtesy Henry Domke Fine Art

Here’s my obligatory blogger’s Valentine Post: 
Yup, it’s that time again. Why not forgo the pesticide-laden roses this year and get your Valentine something more original, longer lasting, and better for the planet? Like, for example, a tree! Or several trees, or an acre of trees. I blogged about two great companies last month, The Trees Remember and Trees Instead, that will plant trees for you, so rather than repeating all of that all over again, click here to read that post. You may not be able to specify trees with heart-shaped leaves such as the Cercis (redbud) above or Cercidiphyllum (Katsura tree), but I’ll take a tree planted for me over a box of chocolates any day, including Valentine’s.

Plant a Tree: A truly “green” gift

Image courtesy Henry Domke Fine Art

Trying to think of something different, and preferably sustainable and economical for your Valentine this year? How ’bout planting a tree? Or two, or three, or an acre-full… 

Trees Instead and The Trees Remember are two companies that will plant a tree for any occasion, including Valentine’s Day. Heck you could also plant a tree for MLK Jr.’s birthday today, for Obama’s inauguration tomorrow…whatever the occasion, from births to weddings to memorials, Trees Instead and The Trees Remember have a tree for you. These companies both look great, so spread the love and support them both, o.k.?

Did you know that trees are the largest and longest living organisms on earth? That’s a pretty apt birth, birthday, Valentine’s, or memorial gift, if you ask me. Furthermore, one tree can absorb about a ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, and produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year – the equivalent of the amount consumed by 18 people annually. For more fun facts about trees and their importance, see Trees Are Good, by the International Society of Arboriculture.

So forget the diamonds, baby, give a tree!

Trees Instead: 
The Trees Remember:

Comic relief

It’s the holidays, the economy’s tanking, your shopping isn’t done, you’ve eaten too much sugar and drunk too much at the office party, the days are about as short as they can get (until the 21st – then they start getting longer again!), it’s cold and miserable outside…time for a little retail therapy, or at least some comic relief.
Om Gnomes to the rescue! I stumbled across these hilarious transmogrifications and just had to share: Classic garden gnome + classic buddha statue = Zen and Yogi Om Gnomes. Created by Portland artist Steve Herrington, these irreverent little statues are available on the Simple Family Living website:
Who says the healing garden has to be a quiet, meditative sanctuary all the time? A little humor can go a long way. 

Open Spaces Sacred Places – New Book from TKF Foundation

So I’m looking on my own blog (this one) and one of the Google ads – “Open Spaces Sacred Places” – catches my eye. I’m not supposed to click on my own Google ads but this one I couldn’t resist, and low and behold, it’s a new book published by the TKF Foundation. This nonprofit’s mission is “to provide the opportunity for a deeper human experience by supporting the creation of public greenspaces that offer a temporary place of sanctuary, encourage reflection, provide solace, and engender peace.” The book is called Open Spaces Sacred Places, by Tom Stoner and Carolyn Rapp, and you can order it from the TKF website. I don’t have a copy yet, but am looking forward to getting my hands on one and reviewing it for this blog. Or if anyone else out there has read it and would like to write a guest review, I’m all for that, too. 

I come across information for this blog and for the Therapeutic Landscapes Database in all sorts of ways. I’m thrilled when people send me stuff, which happens often. But there’s also a lot of internet surfing, following one winding river and taking its many tributaries and just seeing where you end up. Today, I ended up with the TKF’s new book. They’ve been listed on the TLD links page for years now, and I’m glad to see they’re still doing great work.

Psst! Wanna buy a book?

If you’re looking for good books on Landscapes for Health, I’ve just added a new feature to the Therapeutic Landscapes Database that allows you to link directly to to buy recommended books. I’ll be adding more books to more pages (like books on labyrinths and attracting wildlife to the Plants and  Related pages), so check back again soon.

Highest on my Recommended Reading list is Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations, edited by Clare Cooper Marcus and Marni Barnes (Wiley, 1999), and not just because I wrote the chapter on psychiatric hospitals. 

Healing Gardens is, in my opinion, the most comprehensive book in this field. In addition to chapters on specific populations/types of facilities such as children’s hospitals (by Robin Moore), nursing homes (by Deborah McBride), Alzheimer’s treatment facilities (by John Zeisel and Martha Tyson), hospices (by Clare Marcus), and psychiatric hospitals (Naomi Sachs) – and each one of these chapters has historical background, literature review, case studies, and design recommendations – Marcus and Barnes also include an excellent introductory chapter; a chapter by Roger Ulrich on theory and research; and a chapter called “Getting It Done,” which I always direct people to if they’re thinking about building a healing garden at their facility. Lots of good information on fundraising and other nuts and bolts aspects. You can see a couple excerpts of it here, as well as write up by Todd Bressi and comments by jury members when the book won an award (EDRA/Places Awards for Design, Planning, and Research) in 2000.

One caveat: I recommend this book highly to designers, health and human services practitioners, and students. It’s an excellent resource, like a textbook. However, as Henry Domke pointed out in his review of the book on his Healthcare Fine Art Blog, it’s rich in information, somewhat poor in pictures. If you are a home gardener who wants beautiful photos and text that will inspire you for your own garden, this is not your book. For that, I would recommend the following five books, all of which I have and refer to again and again: 

1. The Healing Garden, by Sue Minter
2. Healing Gardens, by Romy Rawlings
3. Gardens for the Soul, by Pamela Woods
4. The Healing Garden, by David Squire
5. The Healing Garden, by Gay Search

Happy shopping, happy reading.