Therapeutic landscapes

Nature and Well-Being: Lecture series at the Bloedel Reserve

Reflecting pool, Bloedel Reserve. Photo by Henry Domke,

Reflecting pool, Bloedel Reserve. Photo by Henry Domke,

During June, Puget Sound’s Bloedel Reserve will put the spotlight on nature and well-being by hosting a series of lectures. Throughout the month, experts from diverse disciplines will explore the unique  relationship between nature and humans, and the healing and therapeutic qualities of landscapes and gardens.

Our founder Prentice Bloedel was fascinated with the relationship between people and plants, often writing eloquently on the subject, as he designed the gardens and landscapes of The Reserve. In June, we are bringing together experts from many disciplines to explore the unique relationship between nature and humans, and the healing and therapeutic qualities of landscapes and gardens.

The Bloedel Reserve is a public treasure that sits on 150 acres of natural woodlands and landscaped gardens just a short ferry ride away from downtown Seattle. In addition to interconnected paths, a Japanese garden, a moss garden, and a reflection pool, visitors will find the Bloedel’s former estate home. The Reserve was created by Prentice and Virginia Bloedel who resided on the property from 1951 until 1986. A man ahead of his time, Prentice Bloedel had an abiding interest in the relationship between people and the natural world. The primary mission of The Reserve is to provide a tranquil, restorative and emotionally evocative experience of nature.

See this past Guest TLN Blog Post by Sally Schauman for more on The Bloedel Reserve as a Therapeutic Landscape.

For more information on this month’s Lecture Series, visit The Bloedel Reserve web site.  Summer hours are extended for June, July and August: Tuesday and Wednesday, 10am-4pm; Thursday through Sunday, 10am-7pm. A short description of the lecture series follow. For a complete description of the talks and other classes at The Reserve, see the summer bulletin. To register for all the lectures that range from $10 to $15 per session, call 206-842-7631, or click on the Brown Paper Tickets.

The Bloedel Reserve Lecture Series for June is as follows:

Friday, June 8 at 4:30pm
Every Step a Healing Step (lecture & guided meditative walk)
Carolyn Scott Kortge, author, The Spirited Walker & Healing Walks for Hard Times

Sunday, June 10 at 2:00pm
The Restorative Power of Plants
Patty Cassidy, RHT, Horticultural Therapist & Gardener for Legacy Health Systems, Portland

Wednesday, June 13 at 10:00am
Healing Garden Designs
Daniel Winterbottom, RLA, FASLA, professor, Landscape Architecture, University of Washington

Thursday, June 14 at 2:00pm
Landscaping for Privacy: Innovative Ways to Turn Your Outdoor Space into a Peaceful Retreat
Marty Wingate, author & garden designer

Saturday, June 16 at 4:30pm
Therapeutic Design Adaptations for the Home Garden
Mark Epstein, registered landscape architect

Sunday, June 17 at 4:30pm
Art in Nature: The Therapeutic Effects of Nature Photography-A Personal Story
Charles Needle, photographer

Tuesday, June 19 at 10:00am
Leave No Child Inside: Reconnecting Children with Nature
Martin LeBlanc, founder, Children & Nature Network; Sr. VP, Islandwood

Friday, June 29 at 7:30pm
“Echoes of Creation” (Video screening & talk)
Jan Nickman, film & television director & cinematographer

Saturday, June 30 at 3:00pm
Restoration & Celebration — The Created World Around Us (lecture & guided meditative walk)
Christie Lynk, professor of psychology, Seattle University

Happy National Nurses Week!

Jacqueline Fiske Healing Garden, Jupiter Medical Center, Jupiter, FL. Photo courtesy of Studio Sprout

Jacqueline Fiske Healing Garden, Jupiter Medical Center, Jupiter, FL. Photo courtesy of Studio Sprout

“So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.” – Florence Nightingale

Let’s hear it for nurses!

If anyone knew the value of fresh air and access to the outdoors, it was Florence Nightingale (1820-1910); her birthday is on May 12th, and National Nurses Week began on May 6th.

Therapeutic and restorative gardens in hospitals and other healthcare facilities are not just for patients and visitors. Staff can benefit just as much – and sometimes even more. The outdoors is a critical place of respite where people who deal with life-and-death situations can go, by themselves or with colleagues, to take a physical, mental, and/or emotional break. Whenever possible, healthcare facilities should provide separate garden spaces for staff. This separation of space for different users with different needs can be as important as the space itself. Even a view of the outdoors has been found to benefit staff, for example by reducing stress and improving alertness (which, of course, benefits the patients as well!). (more…)

Earth Day 2012 – Sustainable and therapeutic landscapes

Jupiter Medical Center Photo by Michiko Kurisu, courtesy of Studio Spout.

The retention pond at Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, FL also serves as large water feature, viewable from the Cancer Treatment Center. Photo by Michiko Kurisu, courtesy of Studio Spout.

Happy Earth Day!

Human health cannot be treated separately from the natural environment.
– Hippocrates, 4th Century BCE

We at the Therapeutic Landscapes Network believe that the best landscapes for health are those that benefit people and the planet. In the most recent issue of Research Design Connections, an article by Naomi Sachs titled “Landscapes for Health: Therapeutic AND Sustainable Landscapes in the Healthcare Setting,” is featured in the Expert’s Corner.  If you subscribe to RDC, you can log in and read the full article on their website. This article will also become a chapter in a book on therapeutic landscapes by Naomi Sachs and Clare Cooper Marcus, to be published by Wiley in 2013.

Below are some excerpts from the article:

Complementary Approaches
Sustainable and therapeutic landscapes complement each other in myriad ways. Facilities have the opportunity to “feed two birds with one seed” by meshing the two design philosophies. Landscape architects are the architect’s and engineer’s best friend here, because they are trained to see the “big picture” as well as details that will best benefit the site and the people served. In many cases, one strategy comes first and the other follows. (more…)

Therapeutic Landscapes with The Patron Saint of Architecture

"The Patron Saint of Architecture" blog image courtesty of Angela Mazzi

This week on the blog, “The Patron Saint of Architecture,” Angela Mazzi features therapeutic landscapes through an interview with me. She asked some excellent, thought-provoking questions that get to the heart of what therapeutic landscapes are, how they function, why they’re necessary, and what designers and healthcare providers can do to make sure that they get incorporated into their projects.

Angela is an architect who specializes in healthcare. Her blog explores all sorts of aspects of healthcare-related design, including (of course) design, as well as business strategies, communication techniques, and “thoughts on how to get and stay inspired as a designer.”

Here are a couple snippets, but I encourage you to read the full post on The Patron Saint of Architecture blog.

How Does your Garden Grow? The Role of Therapeutic Landscapes in Design, by Angela Mazzi

What does landscaping mean to you?  Most likely, not nearly enough.  Too easily, we view it as decorative, a “nice to have” part of a project.  However, as we learn more about salutogenic design and the effects of the environment on wellness (everything from healing to better job performance), landscape starts to become a critical element, one which should form the basis of design.  With this in mind, I asked Naomi Sachs, Founder and Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network (TLN) to share some insights on the power of nature.

What is the difference between landscaping and a garden?  Is it only about habitation?

In general, I would say that a “landscape” is any outdoor space, wild or designed, and a “garden” is a designed space. A restorative landscape is simply an outdoor space that makes you feel good when you’re in it. To me, “landscaping” implies decorative elements like a lawn, shrubs, some trees, and is not necessarily intended for interaction.  A therapeutic (or healing) garden is a space designed for a specific population (children, cancer patients, people with Alzheimer’s) and a specific intended outcome (stress reduction, positive distraction, rehabilitation). This is not to say that landscaping isn’t important. Well-designed and maintained landscapes communicate to patients and their families that they will receive a high level of care, and this can happen from the moment you cross the property line.  Even areas such as parking lots can utilize landscape to provide and reinforce the overall image and mission of the facility.

Maintenance is always a concern when it comes to landscaping- I’ve actually worked with healthcare clients who wanted nothing but grass in the areas they “had” to landscape for ease of maintenance.  What kind of recommendations can you make to landscape skeptics about using plantings?

Access to nature just makes good business sense. Studies by Roger Ulrich, confirmed by others, have demonstrated less need for pain medication, improved patient satisfaction, faster recovery rates, and many other examples of improved outcomes for patients and staff. When you really look at the benefits of providing access to nature, the return on investment (ROI) justifies the initial cost and lifetime maintenance.  Hospitals need to see landscaping as a strategic investment in the same manner they would the purchase of a new MRI.

Visit The Patron Saint of Architecture to read the full article. Thank you, Angela, for a great conversation and post!


“Do care facilities care? Stats on the implementation of therapeutic landscapes.” Guest post by Tanya Goertzen

Montgomery Place Retirement Community Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Montgomery Place Retirement Community, Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Naomi Sachs

This guest blog post is by Tanya Goertzen, Principal of People Places. Tanya initially posed the question to the TLN Group on Land8Lounge, and then took the initiative to do some research of her own. This blog post is a result of that research.

Do care facilities care? Stats on the implementation of therapeutic landscapes

When planning to undertake a specialization like therapeutic design, the additional investment of education to get there is a big commitment.  Keeping up to speed on current research and trends, conferences, publication reviews, etc. takes time and money.  So, is it worth it? We may be passionate about what we do, but does our target market see the value? The answer is a resounding “sometimes,” but the good news is, it’s likely an emerging trend that is growing.

Although no one specific study answers the question, data on the use of design research can help paint a picture.

The Center for Health Design (CHD) conducted surveys[1] in 2009 and 2010 of design research in healthcare settings. In both years, approximately 33% of respondents indicated they always implemented healing gardens. Sounds great, but unfortunately the results are skewed too positively by limited sampling, and are not representative of the health care market as a whole. As a benchmark, the 2010 survey indicated 41.6% always used design research to make design decisions; quite high when compared with the 2010 Health Facilities Management survey[2], in which only 16% always used design research. The latter survey is probably more representative of general trends because of broader sampling.

What is trending positively is the occasional use of design research, and possibly implementation of healing gardens. The occasional use of design research increased increased in the HFM survey from 25% in 2008, to 40% in 2009, and 60% in 2010. What may be closer to reality is around 33% of projects implemented healing gardens occasionally in 2010; an increase of 6.9% from 2009. While the trending is positive, those numbers are indeed small.

Looking to the future, that could all change. If, for example, “sometimes” means 50% of the time, then 16.5% of projects implemented healing gardens in 2010. If the growth rate continues, then that would be 51% in 2015.  Combine this with an aging population, and we could see a big increase in demand. In Canada alone, the number of seniors will more then double by 2036[3], and 3.4% (353 000) of those will likely live in seniors care facilities.[4]

A case can also be made that trends in therapeutic site design are not only represented by healing gardens, but also by trends in healing environments. A person’s outdoor experience of a facility is not just in gardens; wayfinding, loading, parking, waiting, socializing, exercising, etc., can all happen outside of gardens, and all influence stress reduction.[5] According to the CHD survey, the top feature being incorporated all of the time is healing environments that are nurturing, therapeutic, and reduce stress. All things, evidence suggests, supported by therapeutic landscapes. This seems to suggest that other members of the consultant design team, providers, vendors, and business developers may not understand that connection, so it remains up to the therapeutic site designer to educate, at least for the time being.

The future of therapeutic site design looks promising. No doubt, as the Center for Health Design continues its ground breaking work, and evidence-based design continues to grow, we can put aside the lofty guesswork above, and turn to better data.

Tanya Goertzen has been practicing site planning and design for 10 years, is a licensed member of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, and principal of People Places, a site planning and design firm for health care, educational and community places.  She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design and a Master of Landscape Architecture, and is the recipient of the Award of Excellence in the study of Landscape Architecture; the Mennonite Student Travel Scholarship for her graduate work on community settlement patterns; and a winning exhibitor in the B.C. Drawing on the Land Exhibition; and has been featured in Sitelines.

Many thanks to Tanya for this guest blog post. I would love to see some comments and good discussion about this. I’ll be following up next week with some more thoughts.





[5] Healing Gardens, Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations, Clare Cooper Marcus, New York Wiley, 1999.