TLN Blog: Exploring the connection between nature and health

User profile

Name: Naomi Sachs
Nickname: Naomi
Member since: 2009-10-14 18:39:19
Website URL:
About me: Naomi Sachs is Founder and Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network. She received her MLA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1999. Naomi has taught and spoken about the restorative benefits of nature throughout the United States, and has written and been interviewed extensively on the subject. She has been an active member of the American Society of Landscape Architecture and the ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network since 1999; has served on the Editorial Review Board of the American Horticultural Therapy Association's Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture since 2007; and serves on the Center for Health Design's Environmental Standards Council. She is also Principal of Naomi Sachs Design, a design and consulting firm with a focus on gardens and other landscapes that facilitate health and well-being. You can see Naomi's full bio at

User comments

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Thank you for your comment, David! Please find many like-minded people on our Linked In, Twitter, and Facebook pages. If you’re still a member of ASLA, I also encourage you join the Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network. I’m finishing up my doctoral studies so I’ve been preoccupied lately, sorry for the delay in reply. Best, Naomi

Happy Solstice!

Hope you had a great Solstice! 🙂

Pokemon GO gets us outside, but then what?

This from a TLN member who is blind and lives in the Bay Area in California: “…it’s putting an entirely new spin on blind mobility on the sidewalk – especially around my office and walk through town as I’m within the SOMA district – a hotbed of millennial tech culture. In fact, a “gem” site is within 10 feet of the office front door. I want to develop a contrarian game where blind folk get points for caning Pokemon Go gamers lost in their augmented world.”

Pokemon GO gets us outside, but then what?

Comment from a TLN member on FB: “Oh that’s a very interesting post. I agree with you that using technology to help people engage with the outside is an excellent thing – so noticing things they hadn’t spotted before, thinking about the landscape in a different way, identifying features etc. However it seems like this is a game where the environment you’re in doesn’t matter in itself. So you end up with this situation for example

Pokemon GO gets us outside, but then what?

Comment from another Linked In member: “Players are also reporting that their mental health is improving by playing Pokémon GO. For the past year we’ve been testing a video game for mental health. Part of our experience includes an augmented reality game, similar to Pokemon Go, that encourages players to go for a walk. We have been seeing similar player reaction from patients in our clinic and military deployments.”

Pokemon GO gets us outside, but then what?

Comment from a Linked In and TLN member who works at the National Park Service: “So far I see mostly positive benefits. Players are rewarded for time spent walking outdoors, and “level up” up by hatching eggs that incubate based on distance walked. There are reports of people happily logging several miles of walks in parks enjoying time with friends. This is augmented reality rather than virtual reality. The video short doesn’t capture the social aspect of this game that has throngs of young people socializing AND walking outdoors in nature.”

Pokemon GO gets us outside, but then what?

Can’t wait to hear what you think! I have been playing since yesterday and it’s…kind of addictive. But it’s also really hot out and I’m trying to stay safe. A waitress today told us that Wolf Pen Creek Park, which she lives next to, is now THE happening spot in College Station, TX (probably the first time in a long time). Only problem is, kids are playing at all hours and it’s keeping her awake 😉

A children's garden in Guatemala. Photo by Daniel Winterbottom.

I have emailed Daniel, but he is out of the country and not checking emails very often. I’ve passed your comment along and asked him to email if he can! Best, Naomi

The Hero’s Journey as Healing Journey - Guest post by Dan Mallach

Thanks for your comment, Joy! I will forward your contact information on to Dan, and he might respond here as well.

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Hi Mashal, I’m sorry, I didn’t see this until just now! I am not a hort therapist, but if you’re on Linked In, I encourage you to find AHTA there and post this as a discussion question. Best of luck! Naomi

"Nature Heals" Symposium - Still time to register!

I would love to hear about it, Joan! I’m sure it was excellent.

Labyrinths for Healthcare: Approach with Caution

I’m glad the post was helpful! And you got it – in the right space, labyrinths can be wonderful. As with all design, one must choose wisely. Thanks for your comment!

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Hi Helen, I’d be more than happy for you to share the post! Do you need anything else from me? Let me know when it’s up, I’d love to see it. Best, Naomi

About the author, Naomi A. Sachs

Hi Hessam, Atrium gardens are a great idea, and I don’t know of much research on the topic (I think there is one article about an atrium garden at a children’s hospital in Toronto?), so you would definitely be contributing to the literature. If you can build an atrium garden (it wouldn’t even necessarily have to be all that elaborate) and study pre- and post- installation, that would be terrific. Look at other studies – you will have to go outside of gardens to healthcare in general, or outside of healthcare to gardens and nature in general (especially look at office spaces). Another possibility would be to study preferences with photoshopped versions of the same space with and without natural light and plants. Case studies will also probably be useful. Be sure to look at staff and not just patient and visitors. I’ll email you directly with this as well. And feel free to post a discussion on our TLN Linked In group! Best, Naomi

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Hi Christina, I will! Please contact me directly via email to give me the details. info (at) healinglandscapes (dot) org

Use Us! Getting the Most from the Therapeutic Landscapes Network

Hi Annapoorani, Are you on Facebook and/or Linked In? Our groups there would be great places to ask these questions: LinkedIn: and Facebook: You should also look at Clare Cooper Marcus’ and my book, ‘Therapeutic Landscapes’ – we have chapters on gardens for children, the frail elderly, people with dementia, and cancer: Best, Naomi

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Hi Sarah, I’m not sure which certificate program you’re referring to. If it’s the Chicago Botanic Garden, please see their website: This one is definitely offered next year, in May, though they have not set the exact dates yet. Price does not include accommodations or meals. If it’s for horticultural therapy, they also offer one for that (, and there is also one through the Horticultural Therapy Institute ( Hope that helps. If not, leave another comment…

The Enabling Garden at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital

Thanks for the kudos, Jack! I hope to visit them someday in person, sounds like an excellent program.

The Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program - Register now!

I’m not sure, but I would check with the American Horticultural Therapy Association ( – they have a good list of educational resources. I think Kansas State used to offer an online course, but I’m not sure that they still do. You might also try the Horticultural Therapy Institute, also here in the U.S. Best of luck!

The Enabling Garden at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital

Janice, Greetings from the U.S.! I don’t know of any such programs in South Africa, though there is some work going on in Ghana, and I can try to put you in touch with those folks. Please email me through the TLN contact page, I would also highly recommend posting your query as a discussion question on the TLN group on Linked In (and/or Facebook). Linked In: Facebook: Finally, there is a chapter on gardens for mental and behavioral health facilities in Clare Cooper Marcus’ and my new book, ‘Therapeutic Gardens: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces.’ The chapter, and the references, may be very useful.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Thank you, Amy! I took that photo a couple of years ago, when I lived in New York. I’m pretty sure it was from our white redbud tree (Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’).

Lerner Garden of the Five Senses

Hi Maria, As far as I know, there is no set guideline for this, though you can probably get the plant list from the Lerner Garden, and maybe from other sensory gardens as well (if you google “sensory gardens,” you will find a ton of examples. The main aspects would be:
1. No poisonous or harmful plants
2. Plants that are pleasing or interesting to touch (think of bark as well as leaves and flowers)
3. Fragrant plants (same thing – conifers can be very fragrant). Many herbs aren’t particularly fragrant until they are touched (thyme, for example_ – this will lead to a more multi-sensory experience.
4. Plants that make sounds, like grasses or trees like cottonwood that rustle in the breeze.
5. Think beyond just plants. What other garden materials will invite touch and interaction?

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He’s difficult to get ahold of! I actually don’t have any contact information, I’m sorry.