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Horticultural Therapy

Updated on June 18, 2011

Horticultural Therapy

Gardening is both a physical and emotional therapeutic activity. When you spend time in you garden you step away from your daily cares and enter a world that exists between nature and civilization; a world of your own creation. Gardening is an activity where your imagination, creativity and interests determine how the garden grows.

Now when we consider a more professional approach to gardens and therapy we enter the realm of horticultural therapy which uses plants and gardening to enhance emotional, physical and mental well-being. Horticultural therapy is part of the therapeutic inventory that is employed by, for example, hospitals, nursing homes, and community, rehabilitative and mental health centres.

There are associations in both Canada and the United States, for example that provide certification for people who seek to work as horticultural therapists. Certification is voluntary.

There are also courses that are designed to give the horticultural therapist the skills that are needed to use this approach.

If you enjoy gardening and are seeking a profession where you can help others while gardening this may be what you are seeking.

My personal perspective is that is a great combination of skills and interest. When you garden you are participating in Life’s Great dance and are connected immediately that your hands touch soil or seed to something that is greater than your self.

Gardening, natural, chemical free gardening is a holistic action and one where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

The process begins with a small patch of land or a container or two, some soil and seed or seedling. You prepare the soil according to what you want to grow and how you are growing it; in the earth, a raised bed or container, for example.

You plant the seed or seedling; add some organic mulch and water.

If you tend the garden with care, especially if planting in containers or during dry spells when watering are your task and keep a close eye now and then on what is going on with the plants that are emerging into life; you will soon have a thriving garden.

Gardening builds self-esteem; you have visible proof that you can achieve this activity as well as providing food or flowers for your table.

This builds confidence and the feeling of being successful for there is nothing better than success to encourage more success.

At the same time there is humility to your gardening. You did not achieve this all on our own; it would not have taken palce without you but you had helpers.

The sun rain and soil bring the plants to life, the pollinators, bees, butterflies, birds and other help your flowers and vegetable thrive.

The earthworms and many, many other tiny creatures add their energy and activity to yoru garden’s growth; even the wind can be a friend.

You do not even have to do anything to benefit from the healing aspect of your garden, just get a comfy chair place it where you can see the garden and sit back and watch the play. It is all set out before you and willing and eager to reward you for the time and effort that you have invested.



Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks beth for stopping by.

  • betherickson profile image


    10 years ago from Minnesota

    Absolutely true, Bob. I've heard about this before and I believe that this idea of activity really is something that will enhance our physical, emotional and mental well-being. As a personal and mentoring coach (, I would like to share this idea for my clients. Great hub! Keep it up.

    Please visit my hub if you have time.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for the comment

  • C.S.Alexis profile image


    10 years ago from NW Indiana

    This was a real good Hub Bob. Those who garden know the therapeutic, positive side of time spent in the garden but, this hub sheds light to those who have not yet discovered these benefits of gardening. C.S.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thank you for your kind words

  • Dorsi profile image

    Dorsi Diaz 

    10 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Wow Bob- wonderful wonderful hub. I started gardening after my parents died and it's really what helped bring me through my grief- being able to see the cycle of life, the colors, the new growth - it all helped me to heal- and to go on.I had never thought about an occupation as a gardening "therapist"- that's definite food for thought-I love to garden and I love working with people- especially older people.And yes, gardening does build your self esteem-very good observation!

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    thanks for the kind comments

  • marisuewrites profile image


    10 years ago from USA

    My husband and I are going back to Oklahoma next year and the first thing we 'll be doing in our new home is plant a garden...we need the therapy....great hub...thanks!  I found this works for kids and adults together and think every single kid should grow up with this as part of their development.  It really gets them "out of themselves."  !!  Thanks again for good solid information.

    Loved the labyrinth

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    thank you for your kind words

  • Eileen Hughes profile image

    Eileen Hughes 

    10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

    That was like reading a lovely story. I enjoyed that.

    Actually I have just written an article on emotional and physical and mental scars. It would go hand in hand with this for good therapy. After writing that and reading this it was good. Thanks for sharing this.


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