Horticultural Therapy

Planting Seeds for Culture Change – Hort. Therapy for Elders

May Apple. Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

Photo by Henry Domke, www.henrydomke.com

Two-Day Workshop Focuses on Horticultural Therapy for Elders

Planting Seeds for Culture Change is a workshop taking place in early May and late June in Grand Rapids, MI and Prescott, AZ, respectively (see below for dates).

The two-day training focuses on the use of horticultural therapy (HT) with elder populations from the “culture change” perspective.  In the hands-on workshop, attendees will gain skills to incorporate HT into care plans and learn strategies to enable elders’ full participation and gardening success. Instructor Pamela Catlin, has more than 30 years of experience providing  HT to elders. For more information regarding workshop content, registration deadlines and enrollment, visit www.htinstitute.org or call 303.388.0500. 

Locations and dates for Planting Seeds for Culture Change:

Friday and Saturday, May 4-5, 2012, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Porter Hills Retirement Community
Grand Rapids, MI

Friday and Saturday, June 22-23, 2012, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Margaret T. Morris Center
Prescott, AZ

Fee:  $290 (includes all materials and lunches)


National Horticultural Therapy Week

Image from Barclay Friends website, http://bf.kendal.org/living/HorticulturalTherapyatBarclayFriends.aspx

A Barclay Friends resident, watering plants as part of the HT program

It’s National Horticultural Therapy Week!

What is horticultural therapy, you may ask? According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA), HT is “the engagement of a person in gardening-related activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific treatment goals…AHTA believes that horticultural therapy is an active process which occurs in the context of an established treatment plan. HT is an effective and beneficial treatment for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.” To add to that, the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association (CHTA) says that “Horticultural Therapy (HT) and Therapeutic Horticulture (TH) use plants, gardens, and the natural landscape to improve cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.”

In April of 2010, the the Wall Street Journal published an article on HT, titled “When Treatment Involves Dirty Fingernails: Research Finds That Horticulture Therapy Lowers Heart Rate, Improves Mood, Lessens Pain, Aiding in Healing Process.” Here are a couple of excerpts:

Practitioners say that in health-care facilities that can feel stressful and sterile, gardens and plants offer an important respite. “This is a normalizing place,” says Gwenn Fried, horticultural therapist at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. Rusk features a Glass Garden conservatory filled with lush tropical plants, a pond, chatty birds as well as an area where patients work on the mechanics of planting seeds, dividing plants and starting new ones from cuttings. Ms. Fried says the horticultural-therapy sessions can help patients with a wide variety of rehab exercises, such as redeveloping fine motor skills or even cognitive work following neurological surgery. (more…)

Annual Horticultural Therapy Forum at “The Hort,” NYC


Join the Horticultural Society of New York for the 6th Annual Horticultural Therapy Forum
Friday, February 10, 10:00am – 2:15pm

Supportive housing is just that: housing plus support. The Supportive Housing Network of New York works with their members to help tenants lead healthy lives in sustainable physical surroundings. The supportive housing model means that tenants have affordable apartments and access to the services they need to stay housed and healthy. Horticultural Therapy, or HT, is a key component in making this possible.

Horticultural Therapy is an effective cognitive behavioral therapy that provides physical and emotional benefits as well as related health benefits—improved indoor air quality, access to healthy food, and a stronger sense of community connection. For a number of Network members, the benefits of providing HT to their tenants have been immediate, substantive and tangible—tenants receive great pleasure from the flowers, plants, fresh food and herbs they’ve helped nurture and grow.

Join us at The Hort for a day dedicated to horticultural therapy and the benefit it provides to the supportive housing community. We also extend a warm welcome to our governmental partners: NYS Office of Mental Health, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, and NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development.

Admission: $20 (breakfast and lunch included)
Click here to register online or call 212-757-0915 (x100).
Visit the HSNY website to see the full schedule for the forum

A Masters thesis on Healing Gardens for Veterans with PTSD

Image courtesy of Care2.com

Image courtesy of Care2.com

It’s Veteran’s Day, 2011, a good time to highlight some new research on gardens for veterans with PTSD. This is such an important topic, and Brock Anderson decided to make it his Thesis for his Master of Landscape Architecture at Utah State University.

“An Exploration of the Potential Benefits of Healing Gardens on Veterans with PTSD,” by Brock Anderson, is now availalble online for download at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/50/.

Here’s the Abstract:

Healing gardens are places that facilitate in improving or restoring an individual’s mental or physical health. Today, therapeutic landscape design is a growing facet of landscape architecture. This study looks at the potential benefits of using healing gardens in addition to traditional methods of treatment for veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A reasonable amount of research has been done into the area of therapeutic landscapes and their influence on certain populations, but the potential positive effects these healing gardensmay hold for veterans suffering from PTSD seems to be unidentified. This study examines the history of healing gardens, problems facing veteran populations today, current treatment methods for PTSD, and how healing gardens could be beneficial to veterans with PTSD. A Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare facility that is in the process of implementing a healing garden was usedto determine how their PTSD patients will potentially use a healing garden space during treatment.

The purpose of this study was to describe some of the potential benefits that healing gardens could have on veterans suffering from PTSD. Other VA facilities can use this information in the future when implementing healing gardens for PTSD patients. This study is intended to increase awareness of the potential benefits healing gardens might hold for veterans suffering from PTSD and encourage further research into the area.

Recommended citation: Anderson, Brock Justin, “An Exploration of the Potential Benefits of Healing Gardens on Veterans with PTSD” (2011). All Graduate Reports and Creative Projects. Paper 50. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/50

Many thanks to Brock for sharing this with us!

And if that weren’t enough great stuff for one day, here’s an excellent article by Janet Brown, published recently in Healthcare Design Magazine, about a wonderful healing garden and horticultural therapy program at the East Orange NJ Veterans Affairs: http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/article/va-campus-takes-healing-gardens.

American Horticultural Therapy Association conference

Annual American Horticultural Therapy Association conference. Image courtesy AHTA

2011 AHTA Annual Conference
Recovery & Rehabilitation: The Role of Horticultural Therapy in the Therapeutic Community
October 21 – 23, 2011
Asheville, North Carolina

This year’s AHTA (American Horticultural Therapy Association) Annual Conference will be held in Asheville, North Carolina, from 10/21-10/23. The conference is always chock-full of good speakers and information, and is a great way to meet like-minded professionals in healthcare, design, and related fields. This year’s keynote speaker is Sharon Young, Ph.D., Chief Recovery Program Officer & Clinical Psychologist at CooperRiis Healing Farm.  Dr. Young’s presentation, “How to Become a Recovery Revolutionary,” will open the program at the Crowne Plaza Resort.

The tours are always excellent and highly recommended as a way to immerse yourself before the conference begins. Pre-tours will be held on Friday, October 21, and conference presentations will be on Saturday and Sunday, October 22 and 23, 2011.

Visit the AHTA website for more details and to register for the conference.

The AHTA website is also a great resource for information about horticultural therapy, for those who know almost nothing about it to those who practice and want to stay informed on the latest research and innovations.


Horticultural Therapy Institute offers “Fundamentals of HT”

Horticultural Therapy (HT) uses plants, gardens, and other aspects of nature to improve people’s social, spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. If you’re interested in learning more about and even becoming certified in HT, check out these Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy classes being offered by the Horticultural Therapy Institute:

Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy

Learn how to combine a passion for gardening and helping people through the innovative field of horticultural therapy. Join students from across the country to learn more by enrolling in Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy this fall in one of three locations.

With its unique format, you don’t need to live where the classes are held and the format accommodates those who must travel to attend. You can complete this class in only four consecutive days at one of the class sites (Thursday-Sunday).

At the non-profit Horticultural Therapy Institute, students gain the skills and confidence to create and manage successful horticultural therapy programs, and are inspired to become leaders in the practice and profession of horticultural therapy. Our experienced faculty is dedicated to teaching best practices with passion and excellence, keeping an eye on the changing needs of programs, people and places. The four-day class will introduce the profession and practice of horticultural therapy, which uses gardening activities in community gardens, children’s gardens, prisons and health care and human service programs for example. The course describes the types of programs utilizing HT as well as the cognitive, social, emotional and physical goals for the varied people served. It also exposes students to resources for further exploration and to professionals in the field.


Happy National Horticultural Therapy Week!

Eastern redbud. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Eastern redbud, Atlanta, GA, March 2011. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Greetings from Atlanta, GA! Environments for Aging started today (Sunday) and I flew in a couple days early to visit my 94-year-old great-aunt, Stefanie. She embodies a person who is aging joyfully, in a wonderful Continuing Care Retirement Community just outside of Atlanta – Park Springs, in Stone Mountain. But more on that another time. Today, I want to talk about National Horticultural Therapy Week, which started today.

Horticultural Therapy (HT) uses plants, gardens, and other aspects of nature to improve people’s social, spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) website, it is “the engagement of a person in gardening-related activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific treatment goals.” And from Rebecca Haller, HTM, “Horticultural therapy is a professionally conducted client-centered treatment modality that utilizes horticulture activities to meet specific therapeutic or rehabilitative goals of its participants. The focus is to maximize social, cognitive, physical and/or psychological functioning and/or to enhance general health and wellness” (from the Horticultural Therapy Institute website).

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network has an HT page where you can find links to relevant organizations (including the American Horticultural Therapy Association, the Canadian HTA, and the German Association for Horticulture and Therapy, as well as the Horticultural Therapy Institute) and resources online and in print. The AHTA publishes a very fine peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, and that alone is worth every penny of AHTA membership. Any designer or researcher involved in this area of the field should really be a member of this organization.

Which brings me to an announcement about AHTA’s fall conference, which will be in Asheville, NC from 10/21-10/23/2011. Call for submission is open until April 15 – have something you think would be interesting to horticultural therapist regarding HT, research, case studies, design, or work experience? Give it a shot! The conferences are always good for learning and networking. For more info, visit the AHTA website, www.ahta.org.

Today one of the tours at Environments for Aging was of Wesley Woods Center, a specialty geriatric care component of Emory Healthcare with a 64-acre campus with an excellent HT program. Because of schedule conflicts, I wasn’t be able to attend the group tour today (which I heard rave reviews about), but I will have the good fortune of getting a private tour with horticultural therapist (HTR) Kirk Hines on Wednesday afternoon. I’m looking forward to finally meeting Kirk in person, after many years of email correspondence, and to sharing what I learn on the blog.

So enjoy this week, National Horticultural Therapy week; take some time to learn about it, perhaps even take advantage of an event in your community or region being organized by AHTA or one of their many regional chapters.

And as always, I’ll be posting “live” from the Environments for Aging Conference on Monday and Tuesday via the TLN Facebook page (facebook.com/therapeuticlandscapes) and Twitter (@healinggarden).

Horticutural Therapy at Wesley Woods. Kirk Hines, HTR/Wesley Woods Hospital of Emoryhealthcare

Horticutural Therapy at Wesley Woods. Kirk Hines, HTR/Wesley Woods Hospital of Emoryhealthcare

Horticultural Therapy Exhibit at Philadelphia Flower Show: “Liberte, Egalite, Accessibilite”

Philadelphia Flower Show AHTA Booth. Photo by Task Force Chair Sarah Hutchin

AHTA Exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Photo by Task Force Chair Sarah Hutchin

Happening now! I wish I could go to the Philadelphia Flower Show (March 5-13) this year. But since I can’t, I can at least publish a post about it, right? Here’s a blurb from the AHTA website:

The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) is delighted to sponsor the Horticultural Therapy Exhibit for the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show. This will be the second consecutive year for a horticultural therapy exhibit in the Show. Last year, the local network group, Mid Atlantic Horticultural Therapy Network, sponsored the first exhibit, drawing in many people and winning two prestigious awards.

The exhibit, in keeping with this year’s theme “Springtime in Paris” is titled “Liberte, Egalite, Accessibilite” (Freedom, Equality, Accessibility). Featured will be a Parisian Potager showcasing ideas for recycling, sustainability, plants, and ways to garden in small spaces . The goals of the exhibit will be to educate the public about how horticultural therapy (HT) can enhance one’s well- being, teach new skills, distract from pain, reduce stress and isolation, to provide fun and meaningful work in a way that is life-affirming.

Gabriela Harvey posted this update on the TLN Facebook page:

“AHTA Exhibit at the 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show won “Best in Show” in the Non-Academic Educational Category. A special thank you to the committee and to each MAHTN and AHTA member who will man the exhibit as a volunteer. Special kudos to …Sarah Hutchins, Pam Young, Peg Schofield, Jack Carman and Martha Heinze and Carol Lukens!!! Hope I did not miss anyone?”

And Carol Hutchin, Task Force Chair, updated us on Sunday with this:

“I just heard from co-chair we have also received an additional award, a special achievement award from The Garden Club Federation of PA (education exhibit under 1,000 ft.). People have been pouring through our exhibit all yesterday and today (Sunday)! The response from attendees and several judges, who spoke to us yesterday, was very supportive and congratulatory! A very special thank you to all the committee members ( MAHTN and AHTA) who worked so diligently and well together to create the exhibit, as well as all the volunteers who are manning and maintaining it, the donors who gave us so much to make it come to life, AHTA who sponsored it this year and MAHTN who started it all by sponsoring the HT exhibit in the Flower Show last year.

Congratulations, and thank you!

Next week! Michigan Horticultural Therapy Association Conference

Fiddlehead fern. Photo by Henry Domke, http://www.henrydomke.com

Photo by Henry Domke, HenryDomke.com

National Horticultural Therapy Week is just around the corner (March 20-26), and the Michigan Horticultural Therapy Association‘s Annual Conference, “Horticultural Therapy: Connecting People & Plants” couldn’t be better timed.

Friday’s keynote address, “Nurturing the Therapeutic Relationship” will be presented by Lisa Schactman, MS, HTM, CPRP. Lisa is the Life Skills Director at CooperRiis, a healing farm community for individuals with mental illness in western North Carolina. The MHTA conference also features informative breakout sessions, book and product sales, hands-on workshops, displays, refreshments, door prizes and optional visit to the MSU Indoor/Outdoor Children’s Garden. This event is useful to anyone interested in learning how the people-plant interaction brings therapeutic change and improves well-being. Aspects of horticultural therapy can enhance occupational and recreational therapy programs, adult day services, children’s programs, school gardens and programs, community and healing gardens, corrections, hospice, medical care/mental health and rehabilitation settings.

Then on Saturday, MHTA is offering a workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. entitled “Horticultural Therapy: Practical Applications.” Lisa Schactman, MS, HTM will present practical applications of nurturing therapeutic relationships. Participants will also have hands on experience in a session on adaptive tools & techniques.

Visit the Michigan HTA website, www.michiganhta.org, for more information and to register.

Stay tuned for more posts this month about horticultural therapy. Have something specific you’d like to share as a guest blogger? Let us know by leaving a comment on this post.

It’s in the Dirt! Bacteria in soil may make us happier, smarter

Yum, dirt! Photo by Guy Ambrosino.A big thank you to Horticulture Magazine for featuring this post on their website. We are honored to be chosen as one of their Best Gardening Blogs 2011!

AND to the National Wildlife Federation for featuring this article as a guest post on their blog!

Many people, including me, talk about the restorative benefits of gardening (see last Tuesday’s post, for example) and the reasons why it makes us feel good. Just being in nature is already therapeutic, but actively connecting with nature through gardening is value-added. And why is that? All sorts of reasons have been posited: It’s a meditative practice; it’s gentle exercise; it’s fun; it allows us to be nurturing and to connect with life on a fundamental level.

And some recent research has added another missing piece to the puzzle: It’s in the dirt. Or to be a little more specific, a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. And on top of that, this little bacterium has been found to improve cognitive function and possibly even treat cancer and other diseases. Which means that contact with soil, through gardening or other means (see Elio, above), is beneficial. How did this discovery come about?