In France, the Truffaut Foundation has become an important supporter of therapeutic gardens and a go-to player for many starting a project. As a gardening chain with roots going back nearly 200 years, Truffaut started its foundation to bring both financial help and technical support to gardening projects with a social, educational or therapeutic mission. Over the last three years, the foundation has helped over 130 projects (listed here) in retirement homes, psychiatric hospitals and other settings.
As a way to raise visibility, the foundation also launched an annual prize for gardens in these three categories (social, educational and therapeutic) For full disclosure, let me say that I have been a member of the jury awarding those prizes since their inception in 2013. Last year, I presented one of the winners on this blog, a garden created in a middle school with students with learning disabilities.
In 2015, Truffaut decided to take a new tack altogether. Foundation director Daniel Joseph wanted to fire up horticulture students about therapeutic gardens. He approached horticulture and landscaping schools and challenged the students to create gardens, based on paper or grounded in real cases. For many of them, this was the first time they had heard about therapeutic gardens. They went to work, reading up on the Internet, getting help from their teachers and in some cases meeting with practitioners. In the end, the foundation received 50 projects.
A few weeks ago, the winners of the regional competition met on the lush campus of the company in the suburbs of Paris to present their projects to the jury tasked with selecting a national winner. And here are the winners…
The second place went to Julie Girard and « Le Jardin du temps retrouvé ». As a student at the landscaping school Ecole du Breuil also near Paris, Girard also tied her project to an existing place, a nearby retirement home where she met the residents and visibly felt a connection with them. With her classmate Stéphanie Lafayette, she worked on a design made up of five spaces around the grounds of the home. Her project mentions the organization of workshops and activities for the residents in the gardens.
The third place went to Pauline Grenet and her garden for autistic children. Hailing from Marseilles where she is following a training in horticulture as a second career, she designed a virtual project laden with engaging features such as musical sculptures, a shaded pergola, a hen house, a composting station and planter boxes. She also suggested activities to be led by a youth worker.
Also recognized were Julien Sagan with a garden for an unspecified population designed to provide a soothing place and Alexis Conan with a garden for a retirement home. The main interest of this new competition was probably to raise awareness about therapeutic gardens for young horticulturalists and landscape designers. This is not a subject they are broaching in class yet. But the competition might have planted a seed…