Seed of Hope

At a 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania, New York landscape designer David Kemp creates a healing garden that has the power to transform many lives.

Summary: David Kamp was a New York landscape architect with a high profile job and a great future, who worked on rewarding projects like the Australian Parliament House. But in the 1990s he left all of this behind to start his own business dedicated to the creation of restorative gardens which he believes in passionately. David contends that nature has significant therapeutic qualities and is essential to health and well-being. Today, he is applying this attitude to all of his projects including a 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania, which is helping to restore an entire community
Garden Contact Information: Dirtworks, P.C. Landscape Architecture
200 Park Avenue South
New York, New York 10003
Phone: (212) 529-2263
Fax: (212) 505-0904
The Garden: The Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden - Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden is the renovation and expansion of a treasured Library Reading Garden into an exemplary setting expressing the restorative powers of nature. It was created by the Cleveland Botanical Garden (CBG) as a memorial to Elizabeth and Nona Evans who had strong beliefs in the healing properties of nature and landscapes. The design of the project, led by David Kamp and the Director of CBG, Brian Holly, had to balance between being a public space and one for individuals with special needs.

The setting of the Garden was divided into three distinct areas. The first provides quiet respite from a busy terrace nearby and offers an elegant setting viewed from the library. A central reflecting pool highlights a magnificent magnolia. Stone walkways lead around a refined lawn panel to private seating areas and an overlook. A second pool with a cascading basin provides a gentle sound buffer to nearby activities. From here a curved walkway leads past the second setting, a demonstration garden featuring a horticulture therapy program with raised beds, display areas and a spacious vine covered trellis for group activities. Finally, the walk culminates at a dramatic demonstration wall composed of carefully selected native stone. Naturalistic in character, varying in height and fully accessible, the wall incorporates interesting plants, water and hardscape items for touching, smelling or hearing. Therapy programs run almost daily. It is an especially good garden for the blind to visit, with subtle pavement guides along pathways and Braille placed on the inside of handrails throughout the garden, reciting a narrative as well as pieces of poetry which enable the visitor to experience the garden in a powerful “non-visual” manner.

The Legacy Groves of Somerset County, Pennsylvania

Working with the United States Forest Service Living Memorials Project and with the people of Somerset, Pennsylvania, David designed a series of memorial tree groves called The Legacy Groves of Somerset County. The concept grew from a desire to honor and remember those lost on September 11, 2001 with a living, growing tribute of trees. The groves are planted not only in memory of those lost on Flight 93 but also in appreciation of the first responders: the firefighters, emergency personnel, police and other rescue workers, as well as the volunteers who sustained and who continue to sustain the community.

The Legacy Groves are a living memorial created with trees to symbolize the continuity of life and reflect hope for the future. Native Sugar Maples of various sizes and ages are planted in naturalistic groves that offer a quiet place for peaceful reflection for individuals and the community. The first six groves were planted on September 11, 2003, at the Volunteer Firefighters Training Center and the county’s Technology Center. School, businesses, organizations, community groups, federal, state and local government agencies are encouraged to adopt and plant groves throughout the county and regional area of southwestern Pennsylvania. A tree nursery created at the Technology Center assures a continuous supply of Sugar Maples for future groves. The project is a part of the Forestry and Horticulture curriculum of the Technology Center involving students in the development and care of the trees, strengthening the ties between the community and groves.

The Gardeners' Story: “A garden is a state of mind. The thing I find most compelling about such spaces is their ability to transform us. What I look for in a garden is its ability to engage a visitor, to reflect on the value of their life in the framework of nature, to be moved by a direct connection to nature. That connection can be made most profoundly in wilderness areas away from the artifacts of civilization. But I have made it my job to bring something of it to our man made settings. The physical place is designed to help induce this state of mind.” – David Kamp.

In the 1990s David Kamp, a young landscape architect, was on the fast track to success. A rising leader in a prestigious New York firm, David worked on a variety of exciting projects and was chosen as one of the designers for Australia’s New Parliament House. This latter initiative, a highly prestigious and internationally acclaimed project, not only provided a huge career opportunity for David, but also a philosophical one. As Australia’s symbolic home, the design speaks to the individual and to the world. Over the course of this project David realized how design can instill a sense of identity and offer opportunities to connect to oneself and to the larger world. Since then David came to see the response to stress and illness as a defining experience for most individuals and wanted to explore how design can address identity within this context. Soon, David quit his secure job in favor of the riskier endeavor of starting his own company. Dirtworks, P.C. is founded on the belief that nature and gardens have profound healing qualities – that dirt works.

“I started my firm with the belief that nature has significant therapeutic qualities and that interaction with nature is essential to health and well being. In a health care setting, gardens can address the sense of struggle, isolation and vulnerability experienced in times of illness and crisis. They can create a rich and supportive setting that fosters a sense of well being, empowerment, dignity and promise.”

Soon after starting the firm David was awarded a Loeb Fellowship in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University, where he researched nature’s role in health and healing, and afterwards was awarded an artist residency at the MacDowell Colony. Besides maintaining a practice in New York, David is a recognized speaker in the United States and Europe and has taught a numerous universities including the University of Virginia and Harvard University. David is also co-founder of Meristem, an educational, not-for-profit organization promoting nature’s role in improving health and well-being. Most recently, David was on the steering committee that developed Green Guidelines for Healthcare Construction, a tool for establishing sustainable guidelines in the construction and operation of healthcare facilities.

Behind the Scenes: Executive Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Director: Erna Buffie
Writer: Erna Buffie
Narrator: Bonnie Dickie
Directors of Photography: Charles Konowal, CSC (New York & Cleveland) & John Rice (Pennsylvania)
Still Photography: Gudron Georges
Editor: Chris McIvor
Composer: Michael Plowman

Date: 2004
Length: 30 minutes

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