by Hank Bruce
The Cornucopia greenhouse is a major part of our horticultural therapy program. Our clients are actively involved in both the greenhouse and the surrounding grounds. This area is gradually being transformed into a butterfly garden that will eventually become a model interactive sensory garden and heritage garden.
Periodically we will be sharing some of the projects our clients have chosen to do and introduce some of the plants they enjoy working with along with brief notes on horticultural therapy benefits that can achieved at other sites, neighborhoods and your own backyard.
The reason we are using the garden, plants and plant related activities is perhaps best explained in the book Green Nature, Human Nature written by Charles Lewis. This is what he said.
“The garden is a safe place, a benevolent setting where everyone is welcome. Plants are nonjudgmental, nonthreatening and nondiscriminating. They respond to the care given. It doesn’t matter whether one is black or white, been to kindergarten or college, is poor or wealthy, healthy or ill, been a victim of abuse or an abuser, is disabled or blind, can call a plant by name or only caresses the leaves with arthritic hands.”
Gardening and being with plants or engaging in plant related activities can be a therapeutic tool. Professional horticultural therapists use this people-plant interaction in a number of ways to achieve a number of objectives.
It’s more than a feel good exercise. It’s a form of contact with nature in an accessible and convenient, sometimes clinical setting.
Horticultural therapy isn’t about herbal medicine or healing sick plants. What it is about is using the garden and gardening activities as therapeutic tools. These activities can:
- Improve quality of life
- Provide opportunities for empowerment
- Be a venue for personal growth
- Encourage active engagement with the environment and people
- Be a venue for improving the social, educational, psychological and physical adjustment
- Provide a safe, positive place for creative experiences.
Next week we will discuss one of the clients’ favorite plants.
Thank you for reading this introduction to gardening as therapy. We welcome your thoughts, questions and ideas.