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Senior Behavioral Health Garden Featured in a Book


Can gardens promote healing? Recent research shows that they often do. Gardens provide a place of refuge, stress reduction, and relief for symptoms in patients and their families.  It turns out that humans are hard-wired to find nature engrossing and soothing

Here at UC San Diego Health, we are proud to have an award-winning hospital garden designed for older adults that serves as an exemplar for other clinics and hospitals.

The Senior Behavioral Health garden has been recently featured in Design for Healing Spaces: Therapeutic Gardens by Daniel Winterbottom, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington, and Amy Wagenfeld, an occupational therapist and designer.


Occupational therapist Elizabeth Refn is in charge of the UCSD SBH garden


The garden is outside of the UC San Diego Medical Center Hillcrest lobby, transforming what used to be a gray space of cement and cigarette ashtrays into a colorful space of flowers, herbs, and other plants. Former cigarette ashtrays are utilized as innovative planters. There are all sorts of herbs and plants, such as strawberries, basil, mint, rosemary, and fuchsia. Patients from the Senior Behavioral Health unit visit the garden at least twice a week, helping to maintain it. “The garden is not only a vibrant place to visit and socialize, but also is a space where patients can enjoy the sights, smells, and textures of the plants. It’s a space where patients can get away from any worries and focusing on the nature which surrounds,” said senior occupational therapist Elisabeth Refn, project manager. 


The Senior Behavioral Health garden has been recently featured in Design for Healing Spaces: Therapeutic Gardens

The garden is part of the Senior Behavioral Health Program at UC San Diego Health, designed to treat and care for people sixty-five and older with mild, moderate, or severe mental health concerns. 

Photos by Josephine Sheu