Healing Garden

Concepts of Horticultural Therapy Garden

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. 

I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.”

— David Hobson

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 heared 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 over coming 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. 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 designs for achieving specific goals.

Hygiene is another important matter that should be cared about in a 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 gardening equipments. 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 patients 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.