WHAT IS A SERENITY GARDEN?
Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.
-- May Sarton
Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.
-- Lester Burbank
A Serenity Garden is a restorative green space designed to evoke peace, reduce stress, promote physical and emotional healing and inspire spiritual feelings of connection and well-being.
The use of specialty gardens for the enrichment of human health and wellness dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. In the 21st century, here in the United States, research at major hospitals and universities began to produce a body of modern evidence, and it is now understood that time spent in green spaces can benefit human health in ways both culturally significant and scientifically measurable. Through its participation in this research, the American Therapeutic Horticultural Association eventually solidified a set of evidence-based principles which became the standards for the development of gardens used for therapeutic purposes.
Gardens now serve in therapeutic capacities at many hospitals, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes and vocational rehabilitation programs all across the country. In cancer and cardiac hospitals they are used to enhance resilience during treatment by reducing stress and depression. Physical and occupational therapists utilize green spaces and gardening to increase motivation, engagement and to enhance positive outcomes. Healing gardens play an important role in helping many Wounded Warrior Veterans coping with PTSD, and Sensory Gardens facilitate positive engagement for children and adults with autism. At nursing homes, and senior citizen communities, gardens draw many people out of isolation, provide opportunity for physical activity, relieve anxiety and stress and even stimulate joyful connections to memories.
INNOVATION AT WEKIWA SPRINGS STATE PARK
The Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State Park will offer a peaceful, welcoming retreat in which people of all ages and abilities can feel comfortable while enjoying unique experiences surrounded by nature. The garden will transform over ½ acre of disturbed land behind the existing nature education center. Lushly landscaped with a regional palette of native plants, the garden will feature interactive and sensory elements, and enhanced opportunities for relaxation, exercise, social gathering, education, and therapeutic programming.
National and regional expertise has been engaged to design the garden according to the evidence-based principles established by American Therapeutic Horticultural Association. The garden will be among the first of its kind in any state or national park, representing the next innovative wave in the movement to expand equitable access to nature for people of all ages and diverse abilities.
“In every sense the Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State Park will be a ground-breaking amenity, providing a one-of-a-kind experience that everyone can enjoy.”
- Gary Clark, Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation.