Canadian Landscape Architecture Journal Fall 2005 - Landscape/Paysages


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This journal article describes the elements required for the design and construction of a successful therapeutic garden in a healthcare facility. Included are three patient case studies to illustrate the benefits of horticultural therapy and best practices of therapeutic design.

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Canadian Landscape Architecture Journal Fall 2005 - Landscape/Paysages

  1. 1. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE IN CANADA LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES L’ A R C H I T E C T U R E D E P AY S A G E A U C A N A D A Fall/Automne 2005 Creating Landscapes for Seniors The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects L’Association des architectes paysagistes du Canada Vol. 7/No. 4 L’art d’aménager pour nos ainés
  2. 2. 30 LANDSCAPES I PAYSAGES by/par Paul Allison with/avec Richard Kavadas Design aesthetics are extremely important to landscape architects, but aesthetics must become a secondary concern when designing therapeutic landscapes, lest the function of the landscapes be lost. Nonetheless, every landscape architect knows that following the building codes does not preclude creativity. As well, many beautiful garden elements can also make excellent therapeutic tools. The missing link Understanding what aesthetic elements will work — and what won’t — is not a simple matter. Horticultural Therapists (HT) can provide a link between the design and therapeutic values. For example, it is easy to determine how wide a pathway must be to accommodate a wheelchair; it’s in the building codes. But knowing how a planting layout can support a therapeutic program is an entirely different matter. Information is not easy to find. To design successful therapeutic gardens for a seniors’ residence, landscape architects need to focus on the changes that will inevitably occur as the residents age. Designs drawn to suit the present situation alone may not be flexible enough. The HT can lay out the projected needs of the residents over time. How will therapeutic needs change? Ideally, a garden will continue to offer residents an “organic” relationship with the landscape — that is, a relationship with the plants, regardless of their decreasing levels of activity or mobility. At the same time, the garden is changing with age as well. A therapist’s tool kit The relationship between people and plants has piqued my interest for the last 23 years. My work has involved the application of therapeutic approaches to landscapes for seniors’ facilities around the globe. As well, I’ve gathered knowledge through private and joint research projects. (An unpublished research project funded by Royal Roads University examined the impact of gardening and gardens on seniors in British Columbia Senior Health Care facilities.) The people/plant relationship is the therapist’s tool kit. Sometimes, simply feeling the texture of a leaf or watching a flower blossom in the spring makes a connection. Colour and scent are two other excellent tools. Scent is one of the most significant memory aids. The scent of a favourite childhood food can bring old memories flooding back. The scent and colour of flowers can trigger memories of special occasions or gardens that the residents once knew. At one facility where we worked, at the request of residents and their families, we Rendering/Rendu : Ryan James Si l’esthétique du design est extrêmement importante pour les architectes paysagistes, elle joue un rôle de second plan lors de la conception de paysages thérapeutiques, sinon la fonction des paysages risque d’être perdue. Certains architectes paysagistes demandent donc conseil aux thérapeutes horticoles afin qu’il y ait un lien entre l’aménagement et la thérapie. Pour aménager des jardins thérapeutiques remarquables, un architecte paysagiste doit s’appliquer à créer un lien entre l’homme et les plantes, et à tenir compte des changements qui s’opèrent inévitablement lors du vieillissement. Le jardin devrait idéalement permettre aux aînés de continuer à entretenir un lien avec le paysage, et ce, malgré la diminution de leurs capacités attribuable au vieillissement. Le lien entre l’homme et les plantes constitue la boîte à outils de tout thérapeute. Les textures, les couleurs et les parfums sont d’excellents éléments pour faire revivre de vieux souvenirs. Le simple fait de planter un bulbe dans un pot à fleurs peut aussi avoir des effets bénéfiques au plan thérapeutique et aider les résidants à développer un sens de maîtrise de leur cadre de vie. À la longue, ces expériences peuvent amener les résidants à nouer des liens plus étroits avec le jardin, d’où des effets bénéfiques aux plans physique et mental. L’auteur cite entre autres deux études de cas qui illustrent bien le pouvoir guérisseur du jardin. Un jardin thérapeutique aménagé avec soin devrait faire fonction de pont, créant du même fait un lien entre l’homme et la nature. A HORTICULTURAL THERAPIST’S PERSPECTIVE: WHAT MAKES A GARDEN SUCCESSFUL? UNE PERSPECTIVE HORTICO-THÉRAPEUTIQUE
  3. 3. Good therapeutic garden design acts as a bridge, linking the person with the natural world. The connection between people and plants is perhaps demonstrated more effectively by two examples from my files. The names have been changed and the surrounding conditions slightly altered to protect the dignity of each individual’s experiences. selections of plants. Although the plots are small and often shared, their therapeutic value is high. The plots give residents a sense of control over their environment. Both courtyard gardens are accessible to wheelchair residents and the pathways are accessible to hospital beds. Plums and pills W h i l e s e r v i n g d u r i n g Wo r l d Wa r I I , Brenda, a nurse, was wounded. She spent the rest of her adult life in a wheelchair as a resident of a veteran’s hospital. One day she took me aside and led me into her room. S i t t i n g o n h e r b e d wa s a p i l e o f medications. She pointed outside her window to a plum tree with its blossoms just showing and said, “You see those buds? An hour ago, I was going to swallow those pills. . . all of them. When I saw the flowers opening up I decided I want to see another spring.” Brenda’s resolve to witness one more spring was triggered in part through her involvement with a therapy program in the garden. The scent of the plum tree brought Rendering/Rendu : Ryan James created a sense of “personal” gardens. In one courtyard garden, we incorporated several little niches where people can gather to sit in small groups, hidden from other groups. Each intimate space is unique, offering different views and differing colours, textures and scents. In another courtyard, we offered residents the opportunity to grow their own Defining success By what criteria is a design determined to be a success? From a therapist’s perspective, a successful design facilitates the people/plant connections. The simple act of potting a bulb can be a therapeutic experience, which can ultimately lead to a deeper connection with the garden. Such experiences can have a profound effect on physical and mental health. Fall I Automne 2005 31
  4. 4. her outside to the tree, where she sat and reminisced. The blossoming plum connected her to her own past. IRON EAGLE Industries Inc. Manufacturers of Ornamental Iron Fence Systems, proudly serving Canadian Landscapers since 1989. Iron Eagle offers over 62 unique designs for Commercial, Industrial and Residential applications 1256 Cardiff Blvd. Mississauga, ON L5S 1R1 Tel.: (905) 670-2558 • Fax: (905) 670-2841 Tel.: (905) 670-2558 • Fax: (905) 670-2841 • e-mail: • CAD drawings available on our website LANDSCAPES/PAYSAGES — À PROPOS DES IMAGES (For an English translation, see page 6.) Pour prendre des photos éclatantes à l’aide d’un appareil photo numérique, le scanneriste de Naylor Publications, Dan Dahlin, vous propose ce qui suit : • Une photo numérique à imprimer doit avoir au moins 300 points par pouce (ppp). • Réglez votre appareil photo! Plusieurs appareils sont réglés à la plus faible résolution (72 ppp) pour que le disque ou la carte de l’appareil puisse stocker des centaines d’images de petite taille. Les photos à faible résolution ne se prêtent donc pas bien à l’impression. Pour régler la qualité de l’image à son plus haut niveau, consultez le mode d’emploi. • La plupart des appareils photo numériques proposent différents réglages (intérieur/extérieur). 32 LANDSCAPES I PAYSAGES The last harvest Jim, a retired prairie farmer living in an extended-care facility, had suffered a serious stroke that left him frail, weak and bedridden. He was not responsive to any outside stimulus — until his hand was brushed by a small sheaf of wheat a former grain farmer gave me. In short order, Jim had rubbed the g ra i n s o u t o f t h e h e a d s o f w h e a t , readying them to be planted. With tubes extending in and out of him, he was b a re l y a b l e t o m ov e. Ye t w i t h determination, he leaned on his wheelchair and broadcast the seed into a ra i s e d b e d i n t h e g a rd e n w i t h a n awkward twist of his arm. A lush, tall, large-headed crop grew from that seed, and matured to a golden brown. This small crop of wheat gave Jim an opportunity to retain his sense of selfworth and dignity. Making connections B re n d a ’s c o n n e c t i o n t o t h e p l u m blossoms and Jim’s to the wheat helped reconnect them to the world around t h e m . B o t h B re n d a a n d J i m f o u n d validation of their worth through their c o n n e c t i o n t o p l a n t s . T h i s i s w hy t h e ra p e u t i c g a rd e n d e s i g n m u s t g o b e y o n d a e s t h e t i c s . I t m u s t f o rg e a connection between people and plants. This is ultimately the test of a successful therapeutic landscape design. ■ Paul Allison first became aware of the power of plants during his education at Cannington College in Somerset, England. He has recently completed the Inazo Nitobe Memorial Garden at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, a healing garden in Victoria, B.C. Richard Kavadas is a social historian researcher/writer, who enjoys studying the philosophical, political, psychological and spiritual relationships between people, plants and places. An avid gardener/landscaper with over 40 years’ experience, he is currently studying ancient agrarian perspectives.