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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 www.ahs.org
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.

4 Comments

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  • 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.

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