Beyond Edible Gardens - Horticultural Therapy




Beyond Edible Gardens - Horticultural Therapy

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss/Garden of Healing



Gardening is a creative art that provides a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression. Spending time in your own garden improves health and well-being. Sleep gets better, serotonin and vitamin D levels increase, and the immune system strengthens, so get outside and put your hands in the mud. Light gardening tasks such as planting and potting can burn 330 calories an hour. Being engaged in the natural world is healthy for us. That is why the study of Horticultural Therapy has had a long history dating as far back as 2000 BC in Mesopotamia.

Over the years, gardening interventions have become widely available to those who suffer from mental health problems. In the 1940s and ‘50s, doctors recognized gardening was effective in revitalizing hospitalized war veterans, and Horticultural Therapy now can be found in rehabilitative, vocational, and community settings. Weeding and tilling the soil is enough to help you recover from injuries or soothe those who are disabled, disadvantaged, or vulnerable.

Interactions with gardens can be passive or active. You can sit or walk through them and enjoy their beauty – the fragrances, colors, and textures are plenty and meditative. Every garden has a purpose, but magnificent gardens have clear and beneficial goals. There are many types of therapeutic gardens: healing gardens, enabling gardens, rehabilitation gardens, and restorative gardens are just a few. Healing gardens have popped up adjacent to hospitals worldwide in recent years due to the recognition of their therapeutic powers. You do not need to own a garden as finding one at your local hospital, senior center, public or private schools are great options.

We create gardens to invite spontaneous play, exploration, discovery, and interaction for various audiences. Enabling Gardens can provide hands-on teaching for all ages and abilities. Professional garden designers create them to be barrier-free to provide sensory stimulation and physical activities in a non-threatening environment. Water is essential throughout a garden; you can add shooting fountains, cascading sheets, and cooling pools.

Gardens help to rejuvenate you and to feel better by being in harmony with nature. They offer respite and are places of retreat. You will find recovery rates improve, pain relief comes about, and your memory and social abilities are enhanced. Growing food is only one purpose, and edible gardens can be just as beautiful as ornamental or therapeutic ones. Nowadays, there is a garden out there for everyone.


“God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man.”

– Francis Bacon (1625) Essays ‘Of Gardens’



© 2020 Mark Zuleger-Thyss, Garden of Healing LLC. All rights reserved.

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