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.

The program includes case studies, group projects, field trips, lectures, and instruction from experts from healthcare garden-related professions. Working in multidisciplinary teams that reflect the real world of healthcare garden design, your learning will be reinforced through tours of healthcare facilities in greater Chicago.

Who should participate?
Landscape architects, garden designers, architects, and interior designers; healthcare executives, program administrators, development and marketing directors, and consultants; nurses, therapists, extended care providers, and activity and recreation directors; graduate students in related fields

Program content
The program begins with a special full-day seminar on “Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness,” designed as a starting point for those participating in the full program, and as an introduction for professionals not requiring full certification.

Specific content elements

  • Types of healthcare gardens and their defining characteristics
  • Research, evidence-based design, and post-occupancy evaluation
  • Passive and active garden experiences for positive health outcomes
  • User group characteristics (patients, family, visitors, and staff) and how they benefit
  • How to reduce staff stress and increase satisfaction, retention, and recruitment
  • Universal design, ADA, barrier-free design, regulations, codes, and specifications
  • Integration of gardens into new and existing healthcare campus landscapes
  • Connection of outdoor gardens to indoor spaces and therapeutic activities
  • Plant selection and use, equipment, materials, safety, security, and privacy
  • Construction and maintenance of new projects; performing renovations and redirecting uses of indoor and outdoor spaces, including rooftops
  • Management of the garden facility and costs
  • How to build winning healthcare garden design teams
  • How to succeed in the client-centered marketplace
  • Marketing, project proposals, and management; funding and resources

Note: I’ve gotten several queries asking whether scholarships are available for this program. I don’t know of any, but if you want to do it and are short on funds, don’t let that stop you! Some fundraising ideas: Approach your local garden club or other like-minded organization in your community; offer to do pro bono design work for a project in your community in exchange for help with the tuition (and/or travel, lodging, etc.). is a cool online fundraising platform that you might try (there are others, of course, but this one has been getting a lot of buzz lately). Hope to see you there.