Not long ago I accompanied a friend to a hospital for some tests. We arrived early and, wandering the first floor of the hospital, came upon a light filled atrium featuring a 15 foot waterfall and live plants. Sitting in the leather chairs we were soothed by the sound and light and, both of us tired from the early morning drive, actually fell asleep for a few minutes. What a felicitous experience compared to the usual medical waiting rooms filled with television babble.
I think we will be enjoying more such experiences. It has taken about a century, since the demise of asylumdom’s moral treatment and its emphasis on therapeutic landscape, to come back around to the value of nature as an adjunct to healing. Recently I discovered the Therapeutic Landscapes Network at healinglandscapes.org, an organization dedicated to gardens in healthcare settings. The website suggests books to read and presents summaries of evidence-based design, birdsong soundscapes, and lists of healing gardens around the planet.