(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – March 4, 2015

March 4th, 2015
Chicksaw plum (Prunus angustifolia). Photo by Naomi Sachs

Chicksaw plum (Prunus angustifolia). Photo by Naomi Sachs

In Central Texas, things are already blooming, including the Chicksaw plum. The scent is gorgeous – sweet and a little bit spicy. I can always tell when I’m about to see one of these shrubby trees (tree-e shrubs?) in blossom because I smell it first.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' blooming in January. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ blooming in January. Photo by Naomi Sachs

If you are in colder climates and are feeling frozenly jealous right now, stop! Once spring comes, go out and get a witch hazel; you will not be disappointed, especially when she blooms – a fragrance that is also quite spicy – in the darkest days of winter. My favorite type is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ (which in my NY garden usually bloomed in late December and kept on going for over a month) but there are many to choose from. Amazing fall foliage, too. If you want a winter blooming witch hazel, make sure you get one; Hamamelis virginica and some others bloom in the late fall. Or if you’re a plantaholic like me, ignore the fact that there’s no room in your garden for both…and then get both.

 

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‘Birthright’ by Stephen Kellert – Book review by Lisa Horne

March 3rd, 2015

This excellent book review of ‘Birthright’ is by Lisa Horne, ASLA

Birthright cover. Image Source: Yale University PressAs the keynote at the 2013 national American Society of Landscape Architects annual meeting and expo in Boston, Stephen Kellert gave a provocative presentation for the profession. “Biophilia” is a relatively new concept in design and Kellert’s recent work Birthright gives a heartwarming survey of ideas with relevancy to design and theory.

Birthright provides a basis for incorporating nature into our lives. Kellert leaves classifications of nature open-ended and defines biophilia as a love of life. We have an innate desire for nature, which is “a birthright that must be cultivated and earned” (Kellert xiii). This attitude neither advocates a return to an Arcadian past nor forecasts apocalyptic doom. Instead, he asserts that humans will recognize their own self-interest and benefit from investing in the environment. An audience of academics, leaders, policy makers, and professionals interested in biophilia will appreciate the pace, text, and reasoning.

Biophilia – a love of life. Image Source: Lisa Horne

Biophilia – a love of life. Image Source: Lisa Horne

The intersection of nature and humanity creates a challenge for scope. Kellert divides the topic into a series of essays on each critical aspect of the relationship between the two. They progress from the more physiological like attraction and aversion to the more abstract such as symbolism, design, and ethics. Each chapter is relatively contained and explores research, observations, and literary excerpts. References and quotes from René Descartes, Aldo Leopold, Edward O. Wilson, and Roger Ulrich appear in the first twenty pages. In most chapters Kellert adds an interlude with short narrative essays about himself or others. A few are fictional. They provide a counterpoint to the intellectual rigor of the facts and infuse a sense of pathos.

(Image 3) Humans benefit from investing in the environment. Image Source: Lisa Horne

Humans benefit from investing in the environment. Image Source: Lisa Horne

Human relationship with nature has complexities and even contradictions – nature is sometimes cathartic, sometimes perilous, sometimes both. In the Attraction chapter, Kellert notes that “[w]hat we find aesthetically appealing in both nature or human-made objects are settings rich in detail and diversity, but rendered orderly and organized” (Kellert 8). The mystique of nature is set aside for something applicable to design. In the Exploitation chapter, Kellert notes the rough parts of our relationship with nature. His integrity in describing his experience hunting elk is all the more meaningful for the controversy around the issue. Although some of issues clarify that nature is not a cornucopia of delights, the reader can conclude that the net result of a relationship with nature has benefits. It is similar, but more nuanced than Richard Louv’s blog post, “Want Your Kids To Get into Harvard? Tell ‘Em To Go Outside!

(Image 4) Nature can be both cathartic and perilous. Image Source: Lisa Horne

Nature can be both cathartic and perilous. Image Source: Lisa Horne

There is effectiveness to the quality and tone of the writing. Although we may recycle, choose a green energy provider, and specify environmentally friendly materials on the job, it seems almost futile when considering catastrophic environmental issues. While acknowledging the seriousness of these issues, Kellert brings an outlook that is balanced and optimistic. He is not the first to make this argument, but is among the more persuasive.

The final chapter of ethics and everyday life closes powerfully. It is a fictional story of a young adult living and working in New York with a curiosity about incorporating nature into her life after reading an article. Starting with simple steps of updating her apartment with natural materials and nature photographs to adding tropical fish and eventually a cat, she feels more satisfied. Her windowless work cubicle is transformed with more plants and nature prints, which in turn influences the workplace to make changes and even create a small green roof patio.

Connection with nature. Image Source: Lisa Horne

Connection with nature. Image Source: Lisa Horne

She plans trips to wilder distant places instead of a Floridian resort or cruise. She takes more frequent trips closer to home such as camping and hiking with friends. All in all, she is surprised at the increased confidence and joy that the adventure brought to her. The story is visionary, but rings true. The final words of the book are a quote from John Muir “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

 

Kellert, Stephen. Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World. New Haven: Yale University, 2012. Print.

Louv, Richard. “Want Your Kids to Get into Harvard? Tell ‘Em to Go Outside!” Columns by Richard Louv. Children & Nature Network, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

Many thanks to the author of this book review: Lisa Horne, ASLA, a project manager at RVi/NJB in Dallas, Texas, and co-chair of the ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environment Professional Practice Network. She may be reached at lhorne (at) rviplanning.com.

Want to hear an interview with Kellert on NPR? Click here.

 

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HSNY’s Healing Nature Forum: Keynote by TLN’s Naomi Sachs

February 26th, 2015

Healing Nature Forum

2015 Healing Nature Forum: Horticulture as Therapy
The Horticultural Society of New York
When: March 27, 2015
Where: Center for Architecture, Tafel Hall
536 Laguardia Place
New York, NY 10012

The Healing Nature Forum promotes awareness that the connection to nature is essential to human health and well-being, and interactions with plants and gardens provide physical, psychological, and community benefits. This year’s forum will focus on the factors of healing, meditation, contemplation, and restoration of therapeutic gardens. Join us as we welcome horticultural therapists, landscape architects, and researchers to discuss the importance of horticulture as therapy.

This year’s keynote speaker, Naomi A. Sachs, MLA, EDAC is Founding Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and a PhD student in Architecture at Texas A&M University within the Center for Health Systems and Design. Her dissertation focus is on developing a standardized toolkit for evaluation of gardens in healthcare facilities. Naomi A. Sachs is the coauthor of Therapeutic Landscapes, a comprehensive and authoritative guide that offers an evidence-based overview of healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes from planning to post-occupancy evaluation.

Other speakers and breakout session leaders include Milton Puryear, Co-Founder, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative; Brian E. Bainnson, ASLA, Landscape Architect, Quatrefoil Inc; Jay Graham, Design Advisor, TKF Foundation; and Teresia M. Hazen, Coordinator of Therapeutic Gardens, Legacy Health.

For more information and to register, visit the HSNY website, www.thehort.org. See you there!

 

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Calls for conference proposals, and save the dates!

January 25th, 2015
Photo by Henry Domke

Photo by Henry Domke

It’s time to submit some conference proposals! Let’s get the word out on research and strategies for connecting people with nature for health. Here are several calls for proposals, in chronological order of when they are due. Of course, mark your calendars for these conferences at the same time.

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) – Due Jan 29, 2015
Chicago, IL
Nov 6-9, 2015
Learn more, and submit a proposal

Healthcare Design Conference – Due Jan 30
Washington, D.C.
Nov 14-17, 2015
Learn more, and submit a proposal

Horticultural Society of  New York (HSNY) Healing Nature SymposiumDue Feb 13
New York, NY
March 27, 2015
TLN Director Naomi Sachs is giving the keynote at this conference, so she hopes to see you there!
Learn more, and submit a proposal

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo – Due Feb 13
Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
October 6-8, 2015
Learn more, and submit a proposal

European Healthcare Design – Due Feb 15
“Empowering Patients: Transforming the Health Economy by Design”
Royal College of Physicians, London
22-23rd June, 2015
Learn more, and submit a proposal

American Horticultural Therapy Association Annual Conference- Due March 15
“Research: Shaping the Horticultural Therapy Landscape.”
Keynote speaker: Roger S. Ulrich
Portland, OR
October 9-10, 2015, with pretours on October 8
Learn more, and submit a proposal

 

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Happy New Year!

January 6th, 2015

 

I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life. — Bill Watterson

 

Calvin and Hobbes

Wishing all of our TLN members a healthy, joyous, green-kneed 2015!

 

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