Designforgenerations’s Blog


Visiting London, I came across a demonstration community garden in St. James Park.  The garden has been created to teach people how easy it is to start a garden of their own.  The garden is a beautiful and exciting example of how people can garden in small spaces and in urban conditions.

During the second World War, England had a program, like the U.S., that encouraged families to grow their own food.  It was called ‘Dig for Victory’.  Seventy years later, the National Trust has created a grow-your-own food campaign.  It is called ‘Food Glorious Food’ and information can be obtained at

The city of London is serious about encouraging people to start their own gardens.  They have been creating public vegetable gardens on some of London’s famous landmarks, including Buckingham Palace.  Additional information on the community garden food programs can be found at the Big Lunch web site –

Community Garden, London

Community Garden, London

Community Garden

Community Garden


Contact with plants is directly beneficial to patients recovering from surgery in hospitals.  Research conducted by the researchers Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson at the Department of Horticulture, Recreation and Forestry at Kansas State University indicates that contact with nature helps to reduce stress, increase positive mood and provide distraction from pain.

“Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms.”

So, is you want to help speed the recovery of a patients who have had surgery, bring them a potted plant.  The study suggest that potted plants offer the most benefits because they will last longer than cut flowers.  Nursing staff have indicated that patients care for their plants by watering and pruning them as well as moving them to better light.  The patients with plants in their rooms said that the plants were the most positive part of their room.

Potted plants speed recovery from surgery

Potted plants speed recovery from surgery

Sensory Courtyard Garden at St. John Neumann Nursing Home, Philadelphia, PA

Sensory Courtyard Garden at St. John Neumann Nursing Home, Philadelphia, PA

Our bodies natural rhythms are connected to the cycles of night and day.  For centuries people have been able to to balance these natural rhythms by spending time outside.  With the advent of the light bulb, we have been able to spend more time indoors and staying up late into the night.  However, for people who are not able to get outside this can be disruptive to the natural processes of the body, including the absorption of vitamin D.

Sunlight is important for its ability to help the body create vitamin D. Vitamin D ‘works’ with the parathyroid hormone to balance calcium in the blood and in turn helps to build strong bones.  The vitamin also helps regulate our immune system and maintain healthy cell growth.

Residents of nursing homes and other senior residences, in many instances, do not have the ability to access the outdoor environment.  Either it is too difficult for them to be able to get outside or there isn’t even a place where they can go outside.  Creating safe accessible outdoor areas for older adults is very important for their health and well-being.  The opportunity for older adults to be able to spend time in a garden is a natural way for the body to create vitamin D.

Developing gardens that are fun and interesting is a way to encourage older adults to go outside.  Gardens should be planned with activities and programs in mind.  Activities such as gardening, bird watching, reading groups, bar-b-ques, and walking clubs are just a few of the elements of a garden that make people want to go outside.  The goal is to get people to enjoy visiting the garden so that they will want to go outside often.  This will help them get their daily dose of vitamin D – naturally!


Hospital Gardens are being used more and more for food for the patients and staff of the hospital.    The garden at New Milford Hospital has a culinary healing garden.  “The garden is especially healing, because it goes into the food that we feed people”, as indicated by Marydale DeBoer, New Milford Hospitals Vice President of External Affairs.   The Dining Services Manager of the hospital, Kerry Gold, uses the fresh herbs and vegetables in the preparation of  the meals.  The chefs are able to walk out the kitchen doors and pick fresh sage, tarragon and other plants to use in making the dressings, sauces and other dishes.

“You treat the whole person, it’s not just the technical piece” which is the concern of Brenda Warren, a member of the hospitals leadership team.  The article on the hospitals healing gardens can be found at:


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