Gardens are wonderful places to calm the spirit and to relieve tension and throughout history gardens have been used to aid in the healing process – from the Japanese Zen Garden to the Monastic Cloister garden. Restorative gardens have existed since the middle Ages, seeing ‘healthcare’ centres located in medieval monasteries. Exposure to the gardens was an essential element of the recovery, the prescribed treatment being herbal remedies from the garden and prayer.
With increasing interest in complementary and alternative therapies, emphasising the healing of the whole person (mind, body, and spirit), rather than simply alleviating symptoms, interest in healing gardens has been revived. It is thought that simply viewing natural scenes or elements can foster stress recovery by evoking positive feelings, reducing negative emotions, effectively holding attention and interest, and blocking or reducing stressful thoughts. Activities that cause involuntary attention, or capture ones imagination spontaneously, for example watching birds’ splash in a birdbath, quietly playing an outdoor musical instrument or even watching leaves falls from a tree captures ones attention and takes ones mind off any worries or anxieties, thus allowing for mental restoration.
A stressful setting such as a hospice is ideal for a