June 2015: Gardens and Wellness

June 2015 library profile:

Gardens and wellness


"There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits, there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes. Remember that nature is your great restorer."

~Calvin Coolidge, speech, 7/25/1924



The healing powers of nature range from medicinal herbs for relieving pain to restoring the human spirit through contact with trees and landscapes. Here at the Arboretum, we recognize that the capacity of gardens, trees, and natural landscapes to heal is immense. This summer, explore these concepts practically by participating in Aerial Tree Yoga or come into the Sterling Morton Library to read about the effect different environments, plants, and trees can have on the healing process and how nature promotes wellness. The library has resources like The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D. and the Desk Reference to Nature's Medicine by Steven Foster and Rebecca L. Johnson for those interested in medicinal herbs, and books like Restorative Garden: The Healing Landscape by Nancy Gerlach-Spriggs et al for exploration of the healing power of just spending time in nature and gardens. Gerlach-Spriggs discusses the history of healing gardens as well as the background, development, and power of some of the most successful restorative gardens that provide therapy, refuge, and peace.



"... contact with nature quickly has a positive effect. As Rachel Kaplan has pointed out and as numerous 'window studies' have confirmed, the sheer 'thereness' of green nature is enough to soothe us. Charles Lewis gives us numerous examples, from slums to arboretums, of places where contact with nature makes us feel better. The key point is that it is noncognitive. We need not have learned about gardens or landscape aesthetics, we need no prior nature experience to be calmed by a garden. This soothing takes place at the most basic physiological levels... We know that after contact with nature, our immune system works better, hormones that promote healing are activated, neuropeptides that ease pain are produced, and simply and immediately feel better... A garden is pure refuge. Laden with the biological symbolism of safety, a garden elicits from us the opposite of the fight-flight reaction to stress and arousal: nature stimulates the physiology of serenity and recuperation."

~from Restorative Gardens by Nancy Gerlach-Spriggs et al, p. 40-41


The Arboretum offers wellness programs including:

Aviana Aerial Tree Yoga for adults and teens - "Aerial yoga offers wonderful benefits to the body... and easily accessible for a broad range of fitness levels and offers a unique opportunity  to exercise, stretch, relax, and even meditate while cocooned in your own colorful hammock while in an oak tree."

Story Time under the Oak tree: Aerial Family Program - "Enjoy a relaxing afternoon bonding in the branches as you and your little ones gently sway from oak branches suspended in a colorful aerial yoga hammock."


Library resources

Restorative Gardens: The Healing Landscape by Nancy Gerlach-Spriggs et al, 1998

Plants as Therapy by Elvin McDonald, 1976

The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, 1997

Desk Reference to Nature's Medicine by Steven Foster and Rebecca L. Johnson, 2006

Therapy Through Horticulture by Donald P. Watson, 1960

Horticulture as Therapy: Principles and Practices by Sharon P. Simson and Martha C. Straus, 1998

Green Nature/Human Nature: the Meaning of Plants in Our Lives by Charles A. Lewis, 1996


Reader's advisory

If you are interested in horticulture therapy check out our collections on gardening for the elderly or disabled, or if interested in the relationship between nature and the human spirit, take a look at our collections on nature philosophy!


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