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Therapeutic Garden Initiative

Cultivating Healing Spaces in Gardens

In 2023, Denver Urban Gardens launched our new Therapeutic Garden Initiative (TGI), a transformational program that designs and develops gardens tailored to support children and adults who have undergone trauma, possess unique emotional needs, or seek sensory enrichment. With a legacy of 40 years in fostering community and sustainable practices, DUG is proud to deepen our work in Denver by ensuring our garden network also supports the emotional well-being and growth of our community members.

At the core of the Therapeutic Garden Initiative lies a profound commitment to curating spaces that foster healing, growth, and connection.

Each garden is meticulously designed in collaboration with community partners to cater to the specific requirements of the supported population. The TGI aims to provide sanctuaries where individuals, particularly children and families, can embark on a journey of recovery and empowerment through the nurturing embrace of nature.

Gardens with Purpose

One remarkable example of the Therapeutic Garden Initiative in action is DUG’s new partnership with Firefly Autism, an organization dedicated to celebrating individuals on the autism spectrum. This collaboration involved the creation of a new garden curated to engage the senses and facilitate skill development through immersive sensory activities. In late summer 2023, the Earl Lee Evans Sensory and Community Garden blossomed into a space where young learners can discover the wonders of the natural environment in a setting designed exclusively for their needs.

As the Therapeutic Garden Initiative gains momentum, future projects are poised to bring transformation to a broader spectrum of communities. Collaborations with institutions such as Ellis South Elementary, in tandem with the International Rescue Committee, and Tennyson Center promise gardens that serve as catalysts for recovery and growth. Moreover, the Blue Spruce housing development, in partnership with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, will extend the healing touch of nature to those in need of refuge and renewal.

Rendering of the new Earl Lee Evans Sensory and Community Garden by Skyscape Gardens

Example of sensory plants coming to the Earl Lee Evans Sensory and Community Garden

A Symphony of Sensory Exploration: Garden Elements

In the heart of each therapeutic garden lies an orchestra of sensory experiences waiting to be explored. Visitors are invited to engage with nature through a harmonious symphony of elements:

Sensory Plants:

Encounter the calming aroma of mint leaves or immerse yourself in the tactile sensation of the Lamb’s Ear plant.

Dirt + Water Play

Embrace the joy of exploration with shovels in the digging area or follow the gentle flow of the water table.

Sight + Sound

Observe the intricate workings of nature in insects moving about, express your creativity through the sound garden, or find solace in the shade spaces enveloped by sound-muffling foliage.

Growing Beyond Borders: TGI’s Nationwide Impact

The vision of the Therapeutic Garden Initiative extends far beyond the Metro Area. DUG is committed to developing templates and best practices that will pave the way for cities nationwide to embrace the concept of therapeutic gardens. Through the power of collaboration and shared knowledge, we aspire to cultivate healing spaces that reverberate across the nation, nurturing resilience, growth, and well-being for all.