Therapeutic Gardens

Garden Research

Legacy garden part of research study

Patients, families, staff and researchers benefit from a therapeutic terrace garden near Legacy Emanuel Medical Center and cardiovascular intensive care unit that is part of a international study. The TKF Foundation has awarded a $560,000 Open Spaces Sacred Places grant to fund the space and conduct research about the benefits of therapeutic gardens.

Representatives from the local chapters of the March of Dimes and the American Heart Association, past patients, their family members and Legacy Emanuel clinical staff were involved with the planning of the garden and research studies. 

There are three studies:

  • The study of women giving birth will measure the extent to which garden-enriched care lessens their discomfort, pain and stress, and thereby benefits the condition of their babies at birth. 
  • The family study will identify personal benefits experienced by family members of cardiovascular intensive care unit patients. These family members will be invited into the therapeutic garden adjacent to the unit.
  • The nurse study will evaluate how spending designated time in the garden affects work stress management.

“The project is innovative and exciting. Benefits of the new hospital garden at Legacy Emanuel will be evaluated by scientific studies that generate important knowledge about the value of gardens and nature for patients, families and health care workers,” says Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., professor of architecture, Chalmers University in Sweden and principal investigator. “This will be the first time that benefits of a calming, beautiful garden are studied for hospital users in a serious in-depth way.” 

Dr. Ulrich will collaborate closely with Alar Mirka, MD., director of clinical research at Legacy Research Institute, on research design, development and evaluation. Jennifer Antick, Ph.D., professor of health psychology, Pacific University in Oregon, will lead graduate students in support of the family study. 

Funds for this project were provided by the TKF Foundation as part of the National Open Spaces Sacred Places Initiative. The mission of the TKF Foundation is to provide the opportunity for a deeper human experience by inspiring and supporting the creation of public green space that offers a temporary place of sanctuary, encourages reflection, provides solace, and engenders peace and well-being. 

“Patients, families, and staff in obstetrics and intensive care often face extremely stressful situations and unsettling outcomes. The opportunity to enter a quiet healing space can be very important to the well-being of each of these groups,” says Lori Morgan, M.D., president of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

The 6,800-square-foot therapeutic garden features:

  • Destination places to provide privacy for stress management, restoration and reflection
  • Perimeters created by arbors, a water wall and four seasons of specially selected garden plants
  • Wind sails and covered areas to protect from sun, rain and wind
  • A children’s activity area


Legacy garden research wrap up


Healthcare Design Magazine article


Nature Sacred



Read about Legacy Health's award from Nature Sacred here.

Learn more about Nature Sacred, founded by the TKF Foundation, including their grants and research studies.





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