In June of 1996, Virginia Burt, having recently decided not to become a partner at a large landscape architecture firm, was volunteering as a facilitator on the evening she left her position. At the break, a woman came up to thank Virginia and asked “what do you do in your real job?” Virginia blurted out “I am a Landscape Architect and design spirit and healing gardens.” “Oh” she said, “tell me more about that.” Virginia was stunned – an epiphany had just happened.She was briefly unable to reply but for “may I get back to you?” At the time a relatively unexplored area of expertise, healing gardens were new and Virginia did not know exactly what this might mean.
The next evening Virginia was sitting at a dinner party and shared this story when a gentleman across the table said “I’d like one of those.” The next day on June 13, 1996, Virginia started her own firm.
That certain types of landscapes can help to heal illness and alleviate stress and pain is ancient idea, but that a landscape architect could create these healing places through artistry, science, and the art of listening was a rather new notion in mid-1990s. Whether the idea would fly as a business model was also a big question. Regardless the very next day Virginia launched Virginia Burt Designs with the mission of creating gardens that heal and improve both the land and the lives of those live upon it. Twenty years later Virginia Burt Designs is a celebrated landscape architecture firm with healing gardens in both the United States and Canada. VBD’s award-winning gardens grow from all types of unlikely places – from rural concrete-strewn abandoned whaling factories to industrial campuses. One of only six women honoured with a Fellowship in both the Canadian and the American Societies of Landscape Architects, Virginia is continually working to broaden the reach of therapeutic landscapes and speaks extensively on the subject.
From the first healing garden client, found at that dinner party twenty years ago, to our award winning public and private gardens, labyrinths and landscapes, Virginia Burt Designs continues to respond directly to our clients needs and to celebrate the inherent beauty and potential of every site.