What is Horticulture Therapy?

Horticulture Therapy uses plants, various types of gardens and landscapes, and other aspects of nature to improve ourselves on many levels. There are a multitude of documented studies down that show the healing effects of nature, and Horticulture Therapy is a time and science proven practice. Dementia patients, brain injuries, visual impairments, mental health, physical health, autism, trauma survivors, weaning off toxic drugs or medications, the list goes on. Horticulture Therapists are trained professionals to coach, design, or create garden specific activities to achieve certain treatment goals with amazing outcomes. HT is effective for everyone from children to elderly, to those suffering from trauma or sickness whether physical or mental or both, or just wanting to learn more.

Here are some examples of possible goals:

  • Strengthen your body, improve coordination and motor skills. Reduce stress, anxiety, and PTSD issues
  • Stimulate the senses and memory
  • Decrease depression and isolation.
  • Increase communication.
  • Processing Grief and other traumatic experiences.
  • Bringing relationships closer together.
  • Addiction healing and awareness
  • Decreasing high blood pressure and increasing positive thinking.
  • Instilling good learning tools for children.
  • Empowerment and using Mindfulness.
  • Overcoming physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual obstacles.

Horticultural therapy can play in developing self-confidence and individual empowerment as well as key physical, cognitive and social skills. Horticulture Therapy activities are widely used in physical and mental rehabilitation programs.

Healing Gardens and Horticulture Therapy Landscapes

Throughout my professional landscape career I have used plants not just an aesthetic way, but also to bring and joy and healing to others. Plants and nature have such a profound effect on the health, minds, and spirits of people of all ages. People assume that Healing Gardens are only used in larger commercial type settings, but personally I love to bring this into residential projects on a more connective long term relationship with my clients, and get them pro-active with nature and apply that into their lives.

Healing gardens are a very important part of human and animal life, and have dated back for centuries. They are generally defined with specific features like water, plants, textures, butterflies, but you do not necessarily need all these to have right in your backyard. It is my belief that any garden is healing, but it’s up to you to make that happen as well. This is a very symbiotic relationship I try and instill in others to have with plants, and understand the power that is all around us. By embracing nature and participate with your plants, then you ultimately are embracing yourself and can feel it’s restorative effects.

Here are a few examples of how nature and gardening contribute to your health:

  • Physical- Gardening is a great way to increase motor skills and stay active, especially at times when you might otherwise be sitting.
  • Cognitive- regain and strengthen ability to make decisions, start and complete tasks, increase concentration, and find and apply new skills to your life.
  • Social- Provides community and common goals that are shared with others. Trust and communication become established and commonalities between individuals are expressed.
  • Psychological- Nature and gardening give people a sense of anticipation and accomplishment. Nature is a very nurturing being to all in times of sorrow or happiness, weakness or strength. Plants can give an individual a sense of worth and reaffirm that nobody is ever really alone.

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” – W.E. Johns