The annual Australian Therapeutic Landscapes Conference 2021

Restorative Landscapes: Rest, Connect, Restore.



The Australian Therapeutic Landscapes Conference is an annual event, held in a different state each year. It is the only national conference for people working and researching in the therapeutic horticulture sector, and every year brings together between 100-200 delegates from across Australia, New Zealand and internationally.

In 2021, due to the uncertainty with spontaneous travel restrictions, we’ve decided to go online, making this year’s conference GLOBAL! 

The conference theme for 2021 is Connect, Rest and Restore. We will explore “Restorative Landscapes” through presentations and panel discussions. It will be a blended format of live and pre-recorded presentations.

The focus of the conference will be on the many and varied ways nature, gardens, horticulture or green spaces can function as restorative spaces – that is, places that improve our health and wellbeing, lower stress and connect us with nature and with others.

Come join us as we discuss the challenges, enablers and impacts of connecting, resting, and restoring health and wellbeing in natural environments, and help each other with practical ideas for the future.

This event is a must-do for people involved in the growing field of therapeutic horticulture, including anyone using plant-based activity in the fields of health, aged care, disabilities, design, education, horticulture or research. Gardeners, come along!


Allison Williams

Professor, School of Earth, Environment & Society
McMaster University

One of the better-known contributions made by health geographers to the study of health and place is therapeutic landscape theory. This theory brings together the natural, built, symbolic, spiritual and psycho-social elements of place for health, healing and renewal. A brief review of this theory will provide the foundation for best understanding the presentation of a three case studies: (1) green spaces for university students under stress in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, (2) Bahamian yogic blue and green spaces for those seeking mental stillness, and (3) natural elements of the built environment for often isolated, housebound carer-workers who are both caring for an older family member and conducting paid work at home in Ontario, Canada. Results confirm the important role nature plays in sustaining and restoring health and well-being, providing a range of social and cognitive benefits for users. A variety of qualitative and mixed methods research approaches are employed in these studies, illustrating an array of design options for therapeutic horticulture research. Policy and program implications are discussed before new research directions are suggested.

Dr. Williams has played a pivotal role in developing the concept of therapeutic landscapes (TL), one of a few internationally recognized contributions made by health geographers to the study of health and place. In addition to editing two internationally acclaimed book collections, Dr. Williams has directed attention to the application of TLs in various encyclopedia entries. Most recently, she has studied therapeutic landscapes in the forms of campus greenspace for university students, yoga retreats for stillness enthusiasts, and the home environments of informal carer-workers providing care to adult loved ones at home while simultaneously conducting home-based employment. She lives on Lake Ontario, where she keeps a butterfly garden and potted vegetable garden.

Dr Sue Stuart-Smith

Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist DocHealth Service, Author of The Well Gardened Mind
well gardened mind book cover

The garden is often seen as a refuge, a place to forget worldly cares, removed from the “real” life that lies outside.

But when we get our hands in the earth we connect with the cycle of life in nature through which destruction and decay are followed by regrowth and renewal. Drawing on my grandfather’s return from World War I, Sigmund Freud’s obsession with flowers and interviews with people from gardening projects in prisons, hospitals and in the community, I look at how gardening can answer to deep existential needs and discuss findings from recent research showing that connecting to nature alleviates symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.

Sue Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of The Well Gardened Mind, a Sunday Times Bestseller, listed as one of the 37 best books of 2020 by The Times and gardening book of the year by The Sunday Times. She studied English Literature at the University of Cambridge before qualifying as a doctor and working in the National Health Service for many years, becoming the lead clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. She currently teaches at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London and is a consultant at DocHealth, a not for profit, psychotherapeutic consultation service for doctors. She is married to Tom Stuart-Smith, the celebrated garden designer, and, over thirty years together, they have created the wonderful Barn Garden in Hertfordshire. Her book, The Well Gardened Mind, analyses the relationship between gardening and mental health.

call for workshop abstracts

Workshop format


Workshop proposals must consist of a single PDF document of 200 words with the following information:

Pre-conference requirements

Workshops will be recorded. Presenter agreement for videorecording will be sought prior to the event.

Post-conference information

Further information

Submit a presentation abstract

Call for abstracts for presentations is now open.

We invite abstracts for pre-recorded <30mins presentations from researchers, professionals, practitioners, students and TH participants that address the many and varied ways nature, gardens, horticulture or green spaces can function as restorative spaces.

The following presentations are encouraged:


Explain innovative techniques, equipment, materials or design that contribute to restorative landscapes


Share therapeutic programs and practices and demonstrate how they contribute to the restorative function of being in nature or green spaces


Present up-to-date research methodologies, findings and analysis and critical thinking on Therapeutic Landscapes research.

Format Required:

Abstract should be a single paragraph summarising material to be presented and indicating how the presentation aligns to the conference theme ‘Restorative Landscapes”.

Abstract should be no longer than 300 words, in Microsoft Word format.

Submission of abstracts:

Abstracts should be submitted via email to by 5pm 30 June 2021.

In your email include:

– Title of paper
– Presentation type: oral paper or workshop
– Author’s full name, title, qualifications or course of study
– Current position and employment details
– Contact details including phone and email address
– Short bio (100 words) and photo
– Indicate electronic resources required

Selection and notification:

Criteria for selection will include originality, clarity of presentation, relevance and professional interest.

You will be notified by 6th July 2021 whether your abstract has been chosen and given until 7th August 2021 to submit your final pre-recorded presentation.

Please note: Presenters are responsible for the production of their own recorded presentations. You can be as creative as you like or simply record yourself presenting to a PowerPoint presentation (easily recorded through Zoom). Please ensure the quality of the video means it can be viewed and heard easily. Subtitles are recommended but not essential. Recordings deemed unsuitable will be omitted from the proceedings, but opportunities to resubmit will be given where time permits.

Sponsorship packages available now

ATLC is the largest meeting of researchers, practitioners, professionals, participants and students of therapeutic horticulture in Australia each year, making it a great opportunity for your organisation to gain valuable exposure and align yourself as a leader and supporter of therapeutic horticulture in Australia.

This year, such exposure is truly GLOBAL!!!

Sponsorship opportunities are now available for organisations and businesses.  A variety of options are available whether you are looking to build your networks, promote programs, expand your presence within the field, or promote your products or services through THA’s growing networks, in Australia and internationally.

Our sponsorship package includes: online registrations, opportunity to submit a sponsor’s promotional video, LIVE speaking opportunity, sponsorship acknowledgements by THA President and inclusion of logo in conference promotion worldwide.

Please email if you would like to receive our sponsorship prospectus.

Foundational sponsors

Conference sponsor