For all those who garden, it is common knowledge that gardening is truly therapeutic. However, there may be some folks out there that are unaware of the many impacts that a simple plant can have on one’s state of mind. There have been many studies linking the health benefits of plants in the work place and at home. What happens to the people that are not able to work or need assistance due to physical, emotional or mental disabilities? How can they experience the many benefits that plants have to offer? The answer may be in Horticultural Therapy.
Horticultural therapy engages people in the art of gardening to improve overall health and well being. Horticultural Therapy can be adapted to suit the needs of people of all different ages, backgrounds and abilities. It can be a versatile tool in curing what ails you. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, “People respond positively to green plants and colorful flowers. Gardening offers relief from physical and cognitive limitations, reduces stress, gently exercises aging or arthritic joints, and stimulates memory. Caring for plants inspires hope.”
This simple practice has been used throughout the years in a variety of different settings. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, war veterans were encouraged to garden for physical and physiological rehabilitation. Today, therapeutic gardening is used in rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, nursing homes and hospices. HT is also utilized by making wider garden paths and raised bed for easy wheelchair access. It allows the gardener to care for and nurture a plant while teaching valuable life skills such as problem solving and responsibility.
Horticultural Therapy can impact one person or an entire community. Community gardens are now becoming more common in local neighborhoods and urban settings. Horticultural therapy programs can get involved with their local community gardens and social agencies to help themselves by helping others. Combining the therapy with community outreach programs benefits the individuals involved in the day to day garden tending and also the community by building relationships that may not have flourished otherwise.
Please take time to cultivate your garden and your spirit by promoting gardening at home, work and in your community. Many of us already benefit from horticultural therapy without evening knowing it! Share the wealth.