Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design: Leah Diehl

The Greenhouse at Wilmot Gardens, which houses the Therapeutic Horticulture Program image: Leah Diehl
The Greenhouse at Wilmot Gardens, which houses the Therapeutic Horticulture Program
image: Leah Diehl

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Elizabeth “Leah” Diehl, RLA, HTM

Our second in the series of interviews takes us to the College of Medicine Healing Gardens and Teaching Laboratory at the University of Florida Medical School. Leah Diehl is a landscape architect and registered horticultural therapist who is responsible for building an amazing series of programs at Wilmot Gardens at the University of Florida.

Wilmot Gardens, on the University of Florida campus, is located in the heart of the Southeast’s largest academic health center. The gardens are dedicated to advancing patient care, research, and service through its vibrant and growing therapeutic horticulture program. The Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Wilmot Gardens resides at the core of the garden’s mission to improve lives through gardening.

As a side note, the gardens are open to the public year-round and boast an unrivaled collection of camellias in North Central Florida. Wilmot Gardens is named for Royal James Wilmot, who was a horticulturist with the Agricultural Experiment Station at UF in the 1940s. He founded the American Camellia Society in Gainesville.

Throughout these interviews, we are reaching out to landscape architects who have been instrumental in leading the design and development of Healthcare and Therapeutic Gardens. We would like people to know more about the leaders in the field of Healthcare and Therapeutic Garden design in order to illustrate the greater relevance of this field.

The following interview with Leah was conducted by Jack Carman, FASLA, past chair and current officer of the Healthcare & Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN). Leah was reached by phone between therapeutic horticulture sessions.

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Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design

Anne's Garden, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, Georgia image: © The Fockele Garden Company / courtesy of Naomi Sachs
Anne’s Garden, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, Georgia
image: © The Fockele Garden Company / courtesy of Naomi Sachs

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Naomi Sachs, ASLA

In starting this series, we are reaching out to landscape architects who have been instrumental in leading the design and development of Healthcare and Therapeutic Gardens. We want readers to get to know the leaders in this field, and also see the relevance of therapeutic design and its connections to other practice areas. The aim of this interview series is to tell the story, through firsthand accounts from key individuals, of recent developments and innovations in healthcare and therapeutic design. With input from a range of professionals, we hope to create a better picture of what landscape architects in therapeutic design are working on, and also get to know the people behind the projects that are being done.

One of the first people we have spoken with is Naomi Sachs, ASLA. Naomi has her Masters from UC Berkeley in Landscape Architecture and is currently pursuing her PhD in Architecture at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. She has been a tireless advocate for the recognition of the importance of our connection to nature and the benefits that are derived from this interaction. Naomi may be most widely known from her work in developing the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, a tremendous resource for information related to the field of healthcare gardens and landscapes for health. Naomi’s most recent venture has been the publication of the book Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces with Clare Cooper Marcus. (Further information on Naomi’s background can be found at www.naomisachsdesign.com).

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