Restorative Gardens


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The Healing Landscape

Nancy Gerlach-Spriggs, Richard Kaufman, and Sam Bass Warner, Jr.

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Restorative gardens for the sick, which were a vital part of the healing process from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, provided ordered and beautiful settings in which patients could begin to heal, both physically and mentally. In this engaging book, a landscape architect, a physician, and a historian examine the history and role of restorative gardens to show why it is important to again integrate nature into the institutional—and largely factorylike—settings of modern health care facilities.

In this unique book, Nancy Gerlach-Spriggs, Dr. Richard Enoch Kaufman, and Sam Bass Warner, Jr., unfold their argument by presenting the history of restorative gardens and studies of six American health care centers that cherish the role of their gardens in the therapeutic process. These institutions are examined in detail: community hospitals in Wausau, Wisconsin, and Monterey, California; a full-care mental institution in Philadelphia; a nursing home in Queens; a facility for rehabilitative medicine in New York City; and a hospice in Houston. In their comprehensive review the authors suggest that contemporary scientific understanding clearly recognizes the beneficial physiological effects of garden environments on patients’ well-being. The book ends with a plea to make gardens—rather than the shopping mall atria so often seen in newly renovated hospitals—a vital part of the medical milieu.

Nancy Gerlach-Spriggs is a landscape designer and a director of the Meristem Foundation, which promotes the role of gardens in health care. Richard Enoch Kaufman is assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine and a practicing physician. Sam Bass Warner, Jr., is visiting professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT and author of two classics in the field of urban studies: Streetcar Suburbs and To Dwell Is to Garden.

A selection of the Garden Book Club and the Nurses Book Club

"This clearly-written interdisciplinary study of 'restorative’ or healing gardens is an outstanding addition to the literature of the field. Its succinct and insightful blend of history, theory, and case studies is a valuable resource for specialists who design or administer health care facilities and for lay persons who seek a deeper understanding of the nature of healing gardens."—Reuben M. Rainey, Department of Landscape Architecture

"Revealed in this fascinating history of healing environments is the primal, virtually universal belief in the restorative power of gardens. The authors explore these very particular hospital landscapes as profound, expressive metaphors for the natural world and for transcendence and recovery."—Leslie Rose Close, Landscape historian

"Restorative Gardens is one of the very few works addressing nature’s role in health care facilities. Reviewing the history, recent proliferation, theory, application, and future of healing gardens, it provides a thorough, up-to-date, and highly readable introduction to the subject. . . . [This] book successfully answers 'why’ such gardens should be used."—Choice

Winner of a 1999 Merit Award given by the American Society of Landscape Architects Professional Awards Program
ISBN: 9780300107104
Publication Date: September 10, 2004
200 pages, 8 x 10
10 b/w + 70 color illus.