Hot Off the Press: ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Newsletter

The ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network is pretty much the closest thing we have right now to a national organization for outdoor healthcare design. 
They’ve just released the new newsletter, and it’s a good one: You can access all of the newsletters on the HTD PPN site:

I hope to go into more detail about some of the articles in the future, but here are some highlights:
  • The DreamTree Project, a garden for at-risk homeless youth in New Mexico; 
  • Notes from the 2007 HTD PPN Field Session, in which newsletter editor Sally Shute interviews event organizers Jack Carman and P. Annie Kirk;
  • Book review of Susan Rodiek and Benyamin Schwarz’s new book The Role of the Outdoors in Residential Environments for the Aging;
  • An article on Sharon’s Sensory Garden, a garden for the visually and physically impaired in Mendon, NY;
  • An article about the Firefighters Tree Living Memorial at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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midst of her literature review, and though the Therapeutic Landscapes Database lists several theses, most of these are unpublished and not in digital format (with a couple exceptions).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!

More Resources for Wildlife Habitat

In case you’re all fired up and want to learn more about creating wildlife habitat, here are a few more good links:

Backyard Wildlife Habitat:
Wildlife Habitat Council:
Natural Resources Conservation Service:
The Butterfly Site:
The Butterfly Website:

And just so you have everything together, here are the other key links I mentioned a couple entries back:
National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Habitat Certification:
National Wildlife Federation’s “The Green Hour”:
The Children & Nature Network (started by Richard Louv):

You’ll find a few more links on the Therapeutic Landscapes Database; look on the Plants, Related, and Links pages.

Many thanks to R, L, and O for the image!

ASLA Therapeutic Landscapes Research Initiative

From LAND Online, the Landscape Architecture News Digest:

Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Secures First PPN Initiatives Program Grant for Therapeutic Landscapes Research Initiative

“The Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) is the first recipient of a grant through ASLA’s PPN Initiatives Program. The Initiatives Program provides PPNs with financial resources for special projects that advance or promote the practice areas that the network represents. This initial grant is funding the Therapeutic Landscapes Research Initiative (TLRI). The TLRI, which began in spring 2007, is a compendium of current research on the health benefits of therapeutic landscapes.

The TLRI sprang out of a discussion at the 2006 ASLA annual meeting during the Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN session. Members noted that there has been much more research in the past few years in the area of health care and therapeutic design, and practitioners want to stay abreast of that new information. However, it is difficult to keep up with the current research because new studies are published in a wide variety of sources. As a result of that discussion, PPN members applied for a PPN Initiatives Program grant. Funding began May 1, 2007, and will last one year.

The grant pays stipends for one to two students from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, to comb through new research from academic libraries for current articles of interest to health care and therapeutic garden design professionals. Summaries of this research are made available on the Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN website. An interactive blog is also under development to allow members to engage in dialogue about and continue refinement and application of this research.

For more information about the TLRI, contact Susan Erickson, Iowa State University, at 515-294-1790 or To access the TLRI database, visit the Healthcare and Therapeutic Design TLRI website at”

This is an excellent new resource, particularly for designers who need a way to distill the growing body of literature on research-based healthcare design.

Excellent Resource: SULIS

SULIS – Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series
University of Minnesota

This information-packed page on Healing Gardens includes a nice definition of Healing Gardens (see below); notes on general design and design for specific uses; and many useful links and references.

“What is a healing garden?

Based on research by Ulrich and others, it could be argued that any garden is a healing garden. However, for the purposes of this article, we refer to Eckerling’s definition of a healing garden: “a garden in a healing setting designed to make people feel better” (Eckerling, 1996). The goal of a healing garden is to make people feel safe, less stressed, more comfortable and even invigorated.”

Image, courtesy of SULIS website: Paved walkways of the Sensory Garden located at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Photo courtesy of the UMN Landscape Arboretum)

Healthcare Fine Art: A blog for your Favorites list

Henry Domke’s beautiful and thought-provoking blog, Healthcare Fine Art, discusses current issues about the use of art in healthcare:

  • What is the “state of the art”?
  • Who are the leaders in the field?
  • What are problems to be avoided?
  • Who are some of the artists making art for HealthCare?
  • How is it done in other countries?
  • What is the most cost effective way to get the job done?
  • What is all this talk about “evidence-based-art”?

Domke, an artist with a background in medicine, does not claim to be an authority on the use of art in healthcare, but he seeks out answers from those who are.

Photo of water lilies by Henry Domke. You can view more of his work on his website.

New Journal: Health Environments Research and Design Journal (HERD)

The Health Environments Research and Design Journal (HERD) is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal whose mission is to enhance the knowledge and practice of evidence-based healthcare design by disseminating research findings, discussing issues and trends, and translating research to practice.

The vision of HERD is to improve healthcare outcomes as a result of enhancing healthcare environments for those receiving and giving care.

HERD is the only one of its kind featuring evidence-based articles for health environments design and outcomes related to organizational performance and the human experience. The commitment to an interdisciplinary design process is reflected in HERD’s interdisciplinary Editorial Board with representatives from healthcare (including nursing, medicine and healthcare administration), the design industry (architecture, engineering, interiors, graphics), environmental and behavioral psychology, neurosciences, systems and organizational effectiveness, art and music fields, and other complementary fields. The journal also centralizes knowledge about healthcare innovations and designs and addresses significant challenges in the healthcare industry to improve patient outcomes, to reduce errors and to enhance the work environments for healthcare professionals.

As a translational journal linking research to practice, HERD features both rigorous research from academic sources and applied research from practice. Each will be held to high standards.

For more information, to to order a subscription, go to: