The Power of Healing Gardens

At David Conner + Associates, we design for people. We design social spaces that people can enjoy, value, and find comfort.

The spaces we create are intended to connect people with nature and deliver something deeper than aesthetic value. This is the case with our healing gardens. Medical research has shown that people who spend more time outdoors tend to be happier, have better immune systems, and have increased creative production. Healing gardens simply help people feel better.

With the advancement of modern medicine in the 20th Century, healing gardens were directed towards rehabilitative efforts concerning psychological issues. Today, in comparison, the therapeutic features of healing gardens are seen as an integral piece in the design of all healthcare landscapes.

Research done by Roger Ulrich, professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture, and Clare Cooper, Professor Emerita in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, found viewing certain types of nature and garden scenes can significantly affect and diminish stress levels, sometimes as quickly as within five minutes. When observing similar scenes for longer periods, studies have shown that patient stays and pain medication intake are reduced.

“Well-designed hospital gardens not only provide restorative and pleasant nature views, but also can reduce stress and improve clinical outcomes through other mechanisms such as increasing access to social support and providing opportunities for positive escape from stressful clinical settings,” Professor Ulrich said.

Wilmot Gardens Chapman Garden Greenhouse University of Florida Gainesville
Over the past 10 years, DC+A has worked closely with University of Florida – Gainesville and Dr. C. Craig Tisher, former Dean of the UF College of Medicine, to develop and restore the campus’s Wilmot Gardens, located next to the Shands Medical Plaza and Judith and Jerry Davis Cancer Pavilion on UF’s campus. The gardens, which were originally built in 1946, span five acres and serve as a peaceful place where students, faculty, patients, and their families can engage with nature.

The new Wilmot Gardens Greenhouse at University of Florida-Gainesville

The Gardens have seen dramatic changes over the past decade, stemming from the original Masterplan DC+A designed in 2007. The addition of the new Wilmot Gardens Greenhouse and the Community Lawn, which hosts UF’s College of Medicine Hippocratic Oath Ceremony, serve as meaningful locations dedicated to the future of medicine and horticultural therapy. UF recently started a new curriculum based upon the changes made to Wilmot Gardens; the Therapeutic Horticulture Certificate Program began in 2015 and is facilitated in the Greenhouse. Patients also have the opportunity to participate in a rehabilitative program within the garden’s Greenhouse.

The most recent addition to the Garden’s restoration is the installation of the Chapman Healing Garden, which is expected to be complete by August 2016. The Healing Garden will be a beautiful, yet comfortable setting that will feature a curve-linear winding path for relaxed walking and shaded by over 50 Japanese Maple trees, as well as a beautiful array of Camellias. A quiet, calm fountain garden awaits visitors in the middle of a secluded and tranquil destination. The Garden is specifically designed to be therapeutic and stress-reducing for patients, staff, families, and other visitors who seek out the peace and tranquility of the garden.

Drawing of Chapman Healing Garden at Wilmot Gardens, University of Florida-Gainesville

We are excited for the future of Wilmot Gardens and the development of the new Chapman Healing Garden! Our passion lies in creating opportunities for people to discover and interact with quality outdoor spaces.

Sources
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/xlm-a0036577.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18394317
http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/spending-time-outdoors-is-good-for-you
http://plantsolutions.com/documents/HealthSettingsUlrich.pdf