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Unformatted text preview: maintain people’s good health despite the
fact that they are subject to potentially pathogenic biological or psychosocial stressors. Here,
I view the environments offered to visitors by healing gardens and urban green spaces as
circumstances that contribute to good health. I group such places under the concept Healthpromoting environments (see Papers I-V).
What, then, is the relationship between health and stress? Stress has been shown to be a
good measure of absence of health, that is, of ill health (see Paper V). Thus, stress is not an
illness per se, but a collection of natural and necessary reactions. These reactions are
basically the same as those that once, in early human history, helped our forefathers survive 15 by initiating fight-flight reflexes that sharpened the senses in the event of an experienced
threat. However, long-term, frequent or intensive stress is harmful, because a constant
increase in stress hormones disrupts various bodily functions. For this reason, I view stress
reactions as a measure of ill health.
I wish to emphasize here that landscape architecture is both a research discipline and a
practical profession aimed at shaping outdoor environments based on people’s needs. When
its goal is to design health-promoting environments, I view landscape architecture as an
applied art, thus as art that is given shape in relation to the needs and expectations of users.
In the dissertation, I take a general outlook on what is meant by design in relation to outdoor
environments. By good design I mean conscious design that has a positive impact on the
visitor in that it offers expected experiential values and improved or maintained health (see
Because many different professions work with gardens and health, we need a basic
definition of what a garden is if we are to avoid misunderstandings (see Papers I and II). By
garden I mean an enclosed verdant space that provides the visitor with a feeling of security.
The research shows, however, that not all gardens are good for visitors’ health (Ulrich,
1999). By healing gardens I mean gardens that are purposely designed to improve the
experienced health of a patient group through an interplay between stays and horticultural
therapy in the healing garden (Paper I and II). Healing garden is a broad, collective term for
different types of gardens that are purposely designed to promote human health. Under this
heading are different specific types of gardens such as hospice gardens, rehabilitation
gardens and therapy gardens. Horticultural therapy is a form of treatment in which the
garden and knowledge about the garden’s ability to impact the patient constitute the most
important tools. The horticultural therapist must be able to determine when it is best for the
patient to rest, to engage in a light solitary activity, such as taking a walk, or to engage in a
group activity, such as sowing seeds.
The dissertation contains a number of different terms, all of which refer to greene...
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