Friday, June 27, 2014

Gardening as Therapy - submitted by Garden Glamour's First Contributing Writer

Therapy Garden at Merwick: photo courtesy Design for Generations, LLC

Gardening as Therapy 
Written and contributed by Garden Glamour reader -- and writer, Emma Noble.
Emma first wrote to me in May asking to write a guest blog post after her research led her to Garden Glamour.  Emma explained she is a business and finance writer and that after working for several medium-sized businesses, motherhood saw her switch to freelance writing on those topics – as well as her interests in transportation and conservation.
Lucky for us.
I think Emma’s piece on Gardening as Therapy is engaging, informative and peppered with helpful tips on creating healthy, sustainable, beneficial gardens.  Hope you agree.  Looking forward to your feedback for Emma and me. 
Gardening as Therapy
That gardening is good for you seems an intuitive truth, and one embraced at Garden Glamour
What can be more restful and invigorating than picking fresh corn from your beautiful yet productive 'three sisters' bed, or reaching only so far as your window box for a handful of herbs to pep up a salad or make a cup of tea. Add to this the physical element of gardening, as well as the joy of being outdoors and appreciating the world around us, and you have a satisfying combination. 
The health benefits of gardening are well recognized, and include long-term health improvements through moderate exercise and increased levels of vitamin D from being outdoors.
Gardening is an inherently social activity - garden lovers like nothing more than swapping tips with others, debating the weather and the likely successes of new plants. The sense of community - real or virtual through web forums and discussion groups, can contribute significantly to mental well-being and happiness.
Add to this the benefit of growing your own vegetables and fruit, should you choose to, and the local, fresh and organic crops that can be produced in even the smallest of areas are an added bonus to physical health.
Gardening is an endeavor requiring long term commitment and therefore it lends itself to lifestyle changes over years and decades rather than the short bursts of activity associated with attending a gym - meaning you end with gradual changes made in a sustainable way towards better mental and physical well being.
What is therapeutic horticulture?
In addition to the everyday benefits of gardening as a relaxing and energizing hobby, there lies the branch (excuse the pun) of therapeutic horticulture.  

According to the American Horticulture Therapy Association, treatment with horticulture therapy has existed in one form or another since the 19th century, although its use broadened following the end of World War II, when it moved away from the realm of treating mental health issues exclusively and was used to support returning war veterans. This form of therapy is now used in a variety of community, rehabilitative and vocational settings, and can help in both physical rehabilitation and in supporting the cognitive development of individuals struggling with memory loss, problems with socialization or other issues.   
Healing Gardens at Kimball Medical Center: photo courtesy of Design for Generations, LLC.
This therapy is also used in social and charitable organizations across the world, helping those who are isolated through physical or mental disability or social exclusion.
What makes a garden therapeutic?
Here at Garden Glamour, we are all for beautiful, relaxing, well designed outdoor spaces. A therapeutic garden is a specifically designed space, and will depend on the purposes and visitors for whom it is intended. Gardens may be designed with access, rehabilitation or healing in mind, and include a focus on sensory planting, for color, fragrance and to attract life into the garden. Therapy can be as simple as individuals spending time outdoors and appreciating the beauty of nature, building strength for rehabilitation through the gentle exercise of gardening, or specific talking therapies carried out in the outdoor environment to improve comfort and make participants feel more at ease with the conversation. Although many therapeutic gardens are specifically designed, such spaces do not in fact depend on elaborate garden design or architecture, but can be created more simply to suit the individual needs of gardeners and their families.
How to get started?
If you're a complete beginner, a great place to start is through reading for inspiration, either online resources or print texts that will help with step by step details and design ideas.
Further ideas and advice can be found through talking to fellow gardeners - friends and neighbors will know what will flourish depending on your local weather and soil conditions, and can be a great source of inspiration and ideas. 
Local gardening supply stores such as Mecox, can also help when planning your garden, both with necessary products, including specialist planting and design ideas, and words of wisdom. Alternatively you can contact local Master Gardeners, state cooperative extensions, Garden Clubs, or the American Horticultural Society
And of course, don't forget to look through the Garden Glamour archive for ideas too.

Further ideas and advice can be found through talking to fellow gardeners - friends and neighbors will know what will flourish depending on your local weather and soil conditions, and can be a great source of inspiration and ideas. Alternatively try the wealth of internet resources for ideas and planning tools.
Kudos, Emma!  
Many thanks.  Looking forward to your next Guest Blog post.


  1. Superb website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?

    I'd really like to be a part of community where I can get feed-back from other experienced people that share
    the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

    my website; empfohlene Web site

    1. Anonymous, Check out the Therapeutic Landscapes Network - They also have a FB page and Linked In group, and are on Twitter - @healinggarden.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great to hear from you, Naomi @healinggarden And thank you for the terrific counsel and links for those who seek to learn more about Therapeutic Landscapes and healing gardens. Keep up the fantastic, inspiring work. And please do share news and updates with Garden Glamour -- we love to hear from you! I'm a Follower of your social media.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.