If you thought gardens were just for growing vegetables, you may be missing one of the most important aspects of gardens. According to the University of Minnesota's Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series, gardens have been used for healing throughout history, but this use declined when 20th medical technology shifted emphasis from healing the whole body to alleviating specific symptoms. Healing gardens aim to bring about healing of the body, mind and spirit in a holistic approach to health. Although there is no one definition of a healing garden, there are several designs commonly referred to as healing gardens.
Survey the expected users of the garden to determine the appropriate design of the garden. Public healing gardens must be accessible and safe for all, whereas private gardens can be tailored to the need of the family.
Evaluate the therapeutic needs of the community. Healing gardens for those seeking rest and relaxation differ from gardens frequented by those with physical or psychological impairments. While the sounds of water and delicate wind chimes may be appropriate for all, spiny plants, shrubs with thorns and flowers with intense color typically are not appropriate for those with sensory integration issues.
Use natural features of the land when possible. Planting flowers and plants native to the area makes the garden easy to maintain, as the plants typically thrive.
Plant flowers in pastel purples and blues to enhance relaxation. Foliage in soft green, gray or blue creates a peaceful setting. Provide a variety of size and texture in both foliage and flower blooms
Add fragrant herbs along paths or walkways. Herbs typically release a burst of fragrance when touched adding scent to the garden.
Provide seating for visitors to allow for rest and relaxation. Stone or wooden benches are both functional and attractive in natural settings.
Add decorative features such as birdbaths, figurines or water features to add to the overall effect of the garden. Butterfly or hummingbird feeders add both movement and beauty to the garden.