Master Gardening: The Art of Ecotherapy

At Clarendale, we know nature has therapeutic effects. In fact, the environment has real, recognizable, beneficial influences on the human mind. Natural environments can boost one's sense of well-being and may lower blood pressure and levels of stress. Our memory care courtyard at Clarendale Clayton has been designed by Jack Carman, a renowned expert who designs spaces based on these effects. Here’s what he had in mind.

Inviting Plant Material

  • Ornamental trees, including standouts like the Japanese maple, Chinese redbud and purple lilac, catch the eye.
  • Shrubs add multi-season interest— namely a butterfly bush, red twig dogwood, cherry laurel and highbush blueberry.
  • Perennials inject scent and color: daylilies, English lavender, coneflowers, lemon balm and clusters of black-eyed Susan.
  • Planters filled with herbs and flowers appeal to senses of sight and smell—from basil, parsley and pineapple sage to scented lemon rose, orange, lemon and apple geraniums.
  • Ornamental zebra grass fills in with notes of texture.

Welcoming Environmental Hardscapes

  • Room-size pergola with rocking chairs and gliders provides a shady spot for rest and contemplation.
  • Intimate grouping of tables and chairs call residents, staff and families to enjoy coffee or lunch in the sun.
  • Fountain water feature, flanked by rocking chairs, invites residents and guests to sit, listen, relax and meditate.
  • Bird feeders tempt feathered friends to come and visit.
  • Paths paved with recycled rubber material give residents and families a safe, natural space to stroll and explore.

Jack Carman, FASLA

The mastermind behind Clarendale Clayton’s memory care courtyard is the owner, founder and president of Design for Generations, LLC. With more than 20 years of experience as a landscape architect, Carman is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape  Architects and a nationally recognized expert in the design of therapeutic gardens, particularly for senior living communities and individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Characteristically, Carman’s plans for gardens and natural areas are designed to meet the physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of older adults using the gardens. As a Landscape Architect, he analyzes site conditions and creates design solutions that promote improved quality of life. His philosophy? Blend the built environment with more natural aspects of design, taking advantage of nature’s beauty and restorative powers. 

“Gardens are an essential component of any residence. Outdoor rooms can help individuals with dementia stay connected to the world around them.” — Jack Carman, Landscape Architect