I would like to republish one of our blog about healing garden. Gardening always gives you some sort of pleasure and satisfaction. And so the garden has very important role in horticultural therapy. In this blog, there you can see a detailed description about healing garden. Hope you will enjoy

“In horticultural therapy, the therapists embrace the role of a mediator who connect patients to plants. Plants are natural healers and start to heal the patient’s body, mind and soul after the first interaction. Do you know what plants know? Even if it’s a yes on your end there are a lot of things one can learn and observe about plants. Plants can sense many things in the surroundings. They respond to the stimuli of their environment. Plants are regulators of weather in an area and the main factor of rain. They are very sensible organisms so they can recognize even the smallest variations happening within and around them. When a person is working with a group of plants and is able to feel calm and relaxed, her senses get stimulated due to the transfer of positive energy from the plants. Studies have proved that plants are the only creatures which are able to emit positive energy to the environment. The importance of having a garden and pursuing gardening techniques has to be well understood and adopted as it can improve the quality of life of a person.

Robert Gray

                                                                                Credit: Robert Gray, Flickr

Horticultural therapy is based on people-plant interaction. You may wonder what “people-plant interaction” is about and how can it benefit the physically and mentally challenged. Well, it is as simple as how you interact with your family and friends. You can talk and share your emotions with plants, you can provide the same care and affection you show your friend or a relative and even give them a plant buddy hug. While these interactions take place, it will directly or indirectly enhance the strength of person’s body and mind. Mental attitude towards plants can heal the mind and caring, gardening and outdoor activities will help to keep the body fit. It is vital to understand that this approach and attitude might vary from person to person and this approach should be decided by the horticulture therapist to achieve the patient’s goals. HT may use simple gardening techniques, but the way therapists use them depends on each patient’s needs.

You probably might have heard about different types of gardens such as healing garden, vocational garden, therapeutic garden, horticultural therapy garden, medicinal garden, sensory garden and community garden. All these have their own benefits, as the title says. A well designed Horticulture Therapy Garden (HTG) can provide all facilities for achieving and overcoming patients needs and limitations. Horticultural therapy programs also have different forms like therapeutic, vocational and social. A diseased patient can receive a lot of benefits from a therapeutic garden, which provides a healing environment. And a physically or mentally challenged person could receive training through a vocational horticultural therapy program. And the elderly and developmentally disabled category of people can attain advantages from a social horticulture therapy program. But in general, most of the cases need all three forms to become independent in society. It is better to provide therapeutic, vocational, as well as social benefits to the same patient, if necessary, who are willing to participate in HT programs. And most importantly the garden is constructed in such a way that aid to customize and fulfill all their needs.

Wally Gobetz

                                                 Credit: Wally Gobetz, Flickr

While constructing a general horticultural therapy garden for the accommodation of different types of population, it is important to consider different facilities and features which can make an impact on the participants. One main thing to keep in mind while designing is cultivating patches by dividing the total space for implementing different concepts. And each space is specially designed for achieving specific goals. Some of the main garden features needed in HTG are given below:

Features Benefits
Sensory Garden Will stimulate and sharpen all the senses. It is considerable to grow a minimum of 3 different plants for each sense so that the participant could achieve more experience and interest while using different types of plants for each sense. Enhancing sensory stimulations are necessary for most of the diseased and disabled.
Vegetable Garden This is another important area needed in a horticultural therapy garden. Sowing or planting and caring till harvesting will encourage the participant physically and mentally. Vegetable cultivations help improve physical strength and observing the growth of plants, caring and harvesting will boost their self-confidence, commitment and levels of happiness. This area also teaches them vocational skills which aid them to be independent in the society.
Medicinal Garden Cultivate a medicinal area in the garden and include as much as herbs in a particular space. It is suitable to grow this patch at the center of the garden. These plants will purify the air and make the surroundings a healing environment. Even the air itself has medicinal property.
Shade House Build a shade house at any corner of the garden. It can be used as a working area and for repotting and propagation and growing saplings. Some of the indoor activities are also possible in a shade house.
Color Garden One patch can be used as a color area. Use both bright and light colored flowering plants as well as green. The color and smell can make an impact on the human emotional system and cognitive functioning. It is also preferable to have patches on the edges of the garden. Rose garden, rainbow garden, and yellow garden are few types of color gardens. It is better to make the bright and light color in two different corners as it can aid the patients well.
Fragrance Garden Smell is the best way to heal human emotions. Wild and mild fragrances can be used in two different areas.
Butterfly Garden HTG should have access to an area for a butterfly garden or preferably grow butterfly attracting plants around the garden. It helps to keep the garden more alive and energetic and this will encourage the patients.
Adaptive Techniques The use of adaptive techniques makes it more accessible. It can help the elderly and wheelchair patients be a part of the program. Rotating pots, hanging the basket with the pulley system, pergola, rack system etc. are some among them. These techniques also provide physical exercise in an indirect way and feasibility is another advantage for the differently-abled population.
Sculptures and Water Foundation A moving water fountain is very important for a horticultural therapy garden. It brings in more liveliness to the garden and also attracts birds and other pet animals. This feature can help the patient develop inspiration and refreshment. Sculptures are a good way to build curiosity in the patients. It stimulates cognitive skills and helps to recall past memories.
Private Area, Adopt a spot, Resting Area, Chat Area Private area helps to relax the patient and can also be used for meditation. Adopt a spot can help to boost up responsibilities and self-encouragements. The resting area such as garden benches can help the patient to feel calm. And the chat area can be used for storytelling, chatting with younger children and also for conducting small outdoor games.
Pathways Pathways should accessible for all the visitors including wheelchair patients. It is better to build an area as reflexology pathway.
Light Component Beautiful light arrangements on pathways, sculptures, water fountain and other important areas are necessary. It makes the garden more pleasing and secure even in the night.
Security Make use of only non-poisonous and native plants. The garden should have an entrance and exit. Avoid constructing slippery areas. Don’t compose large and deep water fountains.

Hygiene is another important matter that should care about in an HTG. The gardeners, as well as the patients, should take the responsibility to keep the garden clean. Generating natural sounds such as wind chimes and adding other facilities to attract birds and pets can make the garden more lively, energetic and therapeutic. It is preferable to build a store room in the garden to keep the gardening equipment. The theme, color, fragrance, landscape design, and furniture are the main things that need to be considered while implementing a horticultural therapy garden. It is also vital to consider the patient’s needs and likes of the garden. Also, another tip is to conduct “Harvest Mela” or exhibition for exploring the products made by the patients. If it is a private one, have a get together with friends and relatives to encourage them. This will help them boost their confidence and self-esteem. HT garden can make the disabled people feel energized by improving their physical, mental and social skills.”

Credit: Artyplantz.org

ArtyPlantz is conducting workshops and one to one consultation on  Horticultural Therapy for various populations. If you want to know more send a mail to karthik@artyplantz.com or give a call at 8762679127