Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 2
   April 2011
   Horticultural Therapy

Many of us don't think twice when we open the door and step outside to tend to the garden, go for a walk, or to simply breathe in the fresh air. Others don't have that freedom because they are bound by physical, cognitive or psychological limitations. Providing these people with the opportunity to interact with plants may benefit them in a variety of ways.

Horticultural therapy (HT) is facilitated by a trained therapist who engages the client in horticultural activities with the intent of achieving specific treatment goals. Therapeutic horticulture (TH) is a practice that uses plants and plant-related activities to promote well-being. Both practices bring plants and people together to achieve therapeutic benefits.

  Raised beds
Raised beds ease accessibility to gardening activities for those who have limited mobility.

Since HT activities are tailored to ability level, almost anyone can benefit from them. Particular work, such as arranging and gluing pressed flowers, is suitable for people with steady hand-eye coordination. Projects using bigger materials, such as planting bulbs in large pots, are better suited to those with less coordination. The activities should encourage participants to ensure feelings of success and accomplishment.

For those with limited mobility, ease of access is vital. In particular, for a participant with limited reaching or bending ability, raised-garden beds make all the difference because they can be built at a level that makes the soil surface more accessible. This ensures that mobility issues don't act as a barrier to the participant's enjoyment of the activity.

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