It’s well recognized that gardens and green space can help restore, renew and relax us. Teresia Hazen, the coordinator of Legacy Health Therapeutic Garden Program, uses plants and trees to help hospital patients heal.
As Portland’s first horticultural therapist, she has found through research and observing patients and families that gardens can promote health in all realms — physical, emotional, social, spiritual and mental well-being.
She installed the first therapeutic garden at Legacy Emanuel’s Bishop Morris Care Center in 1991. Since then, her research has been widely recognized and most medical centers now have green spaces.
Although her studies focus on hospital settings, all of the concepts can be adopted at home.
Hazen, who founded an accredited Horticultural Therapy Certification Program, includes some of her ideas in a chapter of the book, “Horticultural Therapy and Healthcare Garden Design” in the Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces.”
Here are her suggestions to develop a home garden to be even more restorative:
- Plan for four season of sensory stimulation with visual, touch, auditory, smell and good things to eat.
- Plan a four-season view out of a good viewing window. Stand indoors and imagine the view in summer, fall, winter and spring. Each season, plant and develop that view.
- Encourage birds, butterflies and other wildlife with water, diverse plant choices and safe organic practices.
- Develop a mix of trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, annuals and vines. Remember the right plant for the right place.
- Shop and study at a garden center every month to develop the current month and season of interest.
- Keep it simple. Start small and maintain what you create. Think of a 10-by-10 foot square nature place, garden or restorative yard. It’s all about joy, not making more chores.