While announcing the creation of a Center for Health and Nature research consortium at Houston’s Methodist Hospital, former First Lady Laura Bush unveiled plans for the addition of a healing garden designed by Phillip Hammond, a fifth-year Texas A&M landscape architecture student.
Center researchers will use the garden as a living laboratory to investigate the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors, said Bush, founder of Texan by Nature, a nonprofit conservation group championing the initiative with partners including the Methodist System and the Texas A&M University System.
The announcement was made at a at a May 2, 2018 press conference at Houston’s Medical Center.
Hammond’s design, “Glory Gardens” was chosen by Center for Health and Nature partners from entries in a fifth-year Texas A&M landscape architecture student competition. Designs by Hammond’s classmates, Leticia Meza and Claudia Pool, placed second and third.
Although nature is clearly important to health, said Bush, there’s a lack of research regarding which nature factors lead to increased health, what exposure to nature means, and how much exposure is needed. “I’m thrilled to be here to announce the center, which will help fill these research gaps.”
Hammond and fellow students developed design solutions for the healing garden competition as part of a spring 2018 studio led by Chanam Lee, a professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning. They consulted with center representatives to create gardens that maximize patient healing and enhance the workplace environment.
His design, which includes native vegetation, medicinal flora, pollinator gardens and shaded seating areas, is interspersed with open areas connected by curving walkways.
“Glory Gardens provides a space where patients in search of peace can be surrounded by the natural environment’s therapeutic qualities,” said Hammond. “It reminds them that difficult times are temporary. Natural life comes as a reminder of the lightness of life and the glory of this beautiful world we live in.”
His design can also accommodate a variety of small events, since its trees are housed in movable planters to provide shade and ornamentation in a variety of configurations.
“Glory Gardens” also includes kiosks allowing patrons to note their favorite garden elements and why they are remarkable.