Horticultural Therapy - Part I

Hanbidge on Horticulture

Patricia Hanbidge

Horticulture therapy is a formal practice that promotes a natural sense of wellness. The focus is on goal centered activities with defined outcomes that encourages participants to engage in the natural world around us. Plants are part of our natural world and have been an important part of life forever. Historically, they have provided food, medicine and shelter while today they are often removed from our daily life. It seems that each day is not long enough to complete the necessary duties at home and at work so our leisure time has also been compromised. Our levels of anxiety, stress and impatience are rising and we look for instant fixes for all aspects of our lives.

Perhaps what we should be doing is pausing, reevaluating our priorities and basically slowing down the merry-go-round of life. When was the last time you charged your personal batteries? Why not spend a little bit of each day doing some therapy - just for you? Maybe a little bit of plant based activity might be worth a try. It is a well known fact that horticulture therapy is a recognized way to improve the quality of your life spiritually, physically, mentally and socially.

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As a matter of fact, the students at the School of Horticulture are just beginning their learning path in horticulture therapy. As a recognized and important part of their journey to become horticulturists it is fitting that they learn the practice of using horticulture and plants to become a essential part of their daily life. Better yet, they are sharing this journey with some of our community members in Saskatoon. We are back doing a horticulture therapy program at one of our LutherCare communities. A call came into the school one day from an employee of the LutherCare community and she was wondering if we did any work in the horticulture therapy field as she was looking at providing new opportunities to some of their residents. That call was the beginning of a beautiful partnership between the School of Horticulture and the LutherCare communities.

Last week our first horticulture therapy session was a grand success. The focus of the activity was to build happiness by planting an assortment of bulbs with the clients that would continue to bring the essence of spring indoors over the next few months. We called the session Planting Spring in Winter and we truly did! All of the participants and the students enjoyed the process of beginning life by planting dormant bulbs in nice, warm, moist media that in itself reminded us of the scents of spring. Some of the discussion centered around how plants are really much like people as we both need sunshine, nutrients, water, warmth and of course a little bit of love. Even more beneficial is the caring these plants will receive over time by ensuring they continue to be given the necessary care by those clients who are at a time in their lives when they also receive care from others.

Other benefits will continue to be gained over the next period of time as the bulbs will astonish us all with their miraculous growth and of course the wonder of producing beautiful, scented blooms. We shared a gift that truly does continue to keep on giving. The social interaction of the session was filled with smiles, laughter and excitement from the clients, the staff and of course our student body.

It is our hope that by sharing a little bit more about horticulture therapy with you in this column we will also pique your interest in perhaps trying out some horticulture therapy in your lives. Watch for the column next week which continues to share a bit more about horticulture therapy.

Hanbidge is a horticulturist with the Saskatoon School of Horticulture and can be reached at 306-931-GROW(4769); by email at growyourfuture@gmail.com; facebook: @schoolofhort; twitter: @hortiuclturepat; instagram: patyplant or check out our website at saskhort.com

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