pond at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital

Healing Gardens

Scientific research is beginning to demonstrate what many of us know intuitively – that gardens heal.

As society acclimates to a growing dependence on digital connection, we believe reconnection to nature is essential to restoring and maintaining balance. We work with the conviction that in health, the whole person matters – the mental, physical, and spiritual. Kurisu’s restorative, healing gardens are created to be sanctuaries of rest, regeneration, and reconnection. They model a comprehensive vision of human wellness for the 21st century.

What is a Healing Garden?

While the specific elements of restorative gardens vary widely depending on the populations they are intended to serve, the intent of a healing garden is to promote rejuvenation through immersion in nature. Healing gardens provide positive distraction and sensory engineering that stimulates a full range of senses including hearing, touch, taste, smell and memory through exposure to natural elements. They can be evidence-based designs supported by rigorous scientific studies.

The idea of nature as a place to heal has been embraced by different cultures and in various ways from the beginning of human history. Although healing gardens may take many forms, what unites them is the designer's intent. What defines their success is, ultimately, the experience of the people who use them.

Healing Gardens in Healthcare

While historically, nature and "fresh air" have fallen in and out of favor as a setting for healthcare, today, resourceful hospitals are realizing medical and financial efficiencies by investing in healing environments. Such environments are inhabited by patients, not applied to them like other treatments. This distinction represents a shift in thinking about the experience, and treatment of illness - from the science of treatment to the art of healing. Kurisu fully supports this movement. 

Healing gardens work as an enhancement to medical treatment. When the body is in a calm, relaxed state, it is more receptive to healing. Lowering patient stress levels can mean less pain medication, higher patient satisfaction and shorter hospital stays. Satisfied employees means less turnover, which results in lower operating costs, and when physicians and staff can avoid extreme stress and fatigue, the incidence of human error decreases.

Healing Gardens in Community

Kurisu believes healing gardens are integral to the wellbeing of people at every stage of life. Healing gardens are not just for the sick; they play a powerful role as preventative health care as well. The sensory stimulation, beauty and wonder that a healing garden offers delights children as much as it relaxes their parents. The beauty and wonder found in nature's seasons gives hope to youth as well as the elderly.

But for many people in our increasingly urban societies, access to nature is more limited than ever. In today's technology-dependent world, immersion in a naturalistic, peaceful space where information is not accessible at the push of a button but requires engaging all your senses – this opportunity to rediscover our own essence creates resilience with far-reaching impact. In this way, harmonizing light and shade, water and rock, and space with the senses, Kurisu's work enlists nature to restore peace of mind, physical health, and strong and compassionate communities.

Kurisu has brought healing gardens to diverse landscapes including public parks, educational and cultural institutions, private residences and most recently, behind the walls of Oregon’s only maximum-security prison. 

Who Does a Healing Garden Benefit?

Everyone. To experience a restorative garden is to establish a connection to the familiar – to the fundamental elements of nature that sustain us. Much like nourishing the body with exercise and a healthy diet, immersing oneself regularly in nature's wonders has cumulative therapeutic benefits that support all aspects of life.

Research has shown that exposure to nature can produce significant physiological evidence of relaxation within less than five minutes – as indicated by positive changes in blood pressure, heart activity, muscle tension, and brain electrical activity. Whether you are a patient requiring pain mitigation, an employee needing relief from the stresses of the job, a family seeking social support, a child in need of fresh air and a place to explore, or just a human in today's society desiring respite from a world full of distractions – a restorative garden meets these needs. All this benefits individuals, institutions and communities as a whole.

Lay aside the chaos of the world and gently nurture the capacity within to hear a more harmonious, universal rhythm.

Hoichi Kurisu
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