Saturday, July 9, 2016

Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, by Daniel Winterbottom and Amy Wagenfeld. Timber Press, 2015

Gardens can be healing in several ways; they can have a soothing effect on stressed people, they can have features that actually work as physical therapy, they can be geared towards those with limited sight (having tactile and olfactory stimulus), they can increase a person’s sense of worth and independence by having workspaces that those who use wheelchairs or walkers can use easily. Studies show that patients who have a view of plants or plants in the room heal faster than those who don’t, so it makes sense to have gardens attached to hospitals and convalescent homes. The authors state what features must be in place to make such gardens safe and accessible for all users, right down to discussing what paths should be made of and how different lighting affects people with low vision or PTSD. I didn’t really think this book would be more than a casual look through for me but I ended up reading the whole thing, drawn into the details.

While most of the gardens they reference are attached to healing institutions, they also write about community gardens and how those can heal whole neighborhoods. Crime actually goes down in areas with more plants. They also devote some space to gardens for prisoners, those with dementia, gardens for teaching and for those lacking sensory integration. There are a lot of photos as well as plot plans. There are chapters on the nuts and bolts of building the gardens, such as grades, paths, and actual plants. I recommend this book for anyone designing a garden for any of the populations mentioned, even if it’s just for a person in your family. There was a lot of stuff I would have never even thought of. 

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