17 November 2010

Live Blog: Seiko Goto

Designing Gardens for the Healing Mind
Seiko Goto

This post-sabbatical report comes in three acts.  As usual, liveblogging is sloppy, incomplete and inaccurate.
1) Historic research
 (will be in a film with NHK for Japanese next August and then translated into English and brought to US)

WWII Japanese Interment camps
These controversial facilities were located in inaccessible locations with poor living conditions. 
Photos by Ansel Adams only tell part of the story.
The camp was so large that it had 24 dining halls.
Today it is a NPS National Historic Site.

Gardens were one of the key tools for helping the interred make the experience less painful.

David recommends Kenny Helphand's Defiant Gardens

2) Garden Projects
What if the residents of a senior community had an indoor garden in the winter?
Differnet courtyards were identified (some designed by professionals, some note so much), and then residents were asked to visit each - once in the winter and once in the summer - and review their preferences.
Associations with plants from their childhood were important.
The Japanese garden was the most preferred and the herb garden (professionaly designed) was least preferred.  Comments about the herb garden suggested a problem with the ephemeral nature of herbaceous plants.
At a nearby school, she found that primary school kids also preferred Japanese garden designs.

As an alternative to prefernece surveys, she used synthetic and para-synthetic EKG to monitor patient responses to gardens.  Japanese gardens were found to e better, but the lack of trees in herb gardens might have just made them too hot.
Finally, Alzheimer's patients were studied.  EKG, heart rate, medical report and video tape were used to document responses.  Patients started inside and then moved outside.  They heard crickets, and when they went away, noticed that they were missing.  Since these patients' memories aren't supposed to endure that long, it was a notable finding.  Something is linking memory and gardens.

3) Japanese Garden Workshop
Mark R reported on a small group trip to Kyoto where the students got to do hands-on maintenance with a master japanese gardener.
"If a carp can become a dragon, what can you do?"

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