The Elizabeth & Nona Evans Restorative Garden

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Landscape Deston ‘ Dirtwais. PC! location Ohio. USA I Landscape Area 1.1 t5w i ComoJoted Year 2004 I Photographer’ K. Dutei’

When designers turn their attention to special needs populations there is a temptation to focus on particu­lar, often restrictive aspects of the project rattier than explore the expanse of rich experiences and possibilities. Health and ill health are a continuum. Some of us have severe restrictions{like a wheelchair bound person with cerebral palsy), others minor restrictionsflike a baby stroller), temporary problems(like a broken foot) or progressive dedinefas with Alzheimer’s disease or aging). When we design accessible spaces we are designing not just for the disabled, we are designing for everyone, including ourselves. It is in this context of creating a garden that accom­modates the full range of the human condition where we find the Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden in the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Because the garden was to be located within a public botanical garden where vis­itors are free to stroll, the need for privacy was an important consideration. Communication and a close collabora­tive working relationship were paramount to achieving a sensitive, responsive design. Discussions ranged from the general, such as the idea of beauty in the garden and issues of privacy and security(both real and perceived), to the specific, including the physical and psycliological needs of various visitor groups, the horticultural therapy pro­gram requirements, the maintenance and protection of existing plant material, plant acquisitions and site condi­tions. Path materials were considered for their durability, aesthetic quality, glare, and accessibility, balancing the need for slip resistance with degree of texture to minimize fatigue Plants were assessed with regard to their use in horticultural therapy programs, durability in a public space, place in the Botanical Garden’s collection and so on. The garden’s design would emphasize the importance of immersion within a beautiful garden setting while dis­creetly creating a comfortable environment with a range of uses.

The contemplative garden

A mature white blossoming Yulan Magnolia(Magnolia denudata) stands at the head of a reflecting pool. Color in this calm setting is muted – pnmanly shades of green. Rowers and fragrances are minimized, as is the hardscape. Materials reflect the context of the Botanical Garden and the elegance and fine detailing of the library. Mature plant material, stone and wa­ter speak to the institution’s permanence and commitment to the community, especially its most vulnerable populations. The demonstration / Exploration garden

Behind the low retaining wall of the Contemplative Garden is another garden with an unusual sense of privacy. This space is defined by a high stonewall designed in close collaboration with the Botanical Garden’s Horticultural Therapist and Director. The wall itself is a participatory feature offering a variety of opportunities for touching, smelling and heanng.

The horticultural therapy garden

The space designed for horticultural therapy programs is sunny, open, and overflowing with color. Sensory stimulation is heightened in this area as clients, some with severe disabilities, work with and enjoy carefully selected plants and crafts. The use of planter walls and a berm create interest and privacy while allowing the general public to enjoy this part of the garden without intruding on or distracting groups or activities. Health care professionals and others are welcomed in this area as tliey learn about horticultural therapy, plants, and gardening

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