Horticulture Therapy

Gardening improves mood

Spring has sprung and people are looking to the outdoors, plants and gardening for a mood lift, a lifestyle change and a tried and true path to happiness and fulfillment.

For those who think such attitudes are maybe a tad over-optimistic, we can show a surprising amount of research on the mental and physical health benefits of gardening.  From a flower pot on the windowsill to a whole farm, getting back in touch with the natural world has been found helpful to many.

Horticulture Therapy

Homeless veterans, juveniles in detention, dementia patients, and people struggling with PTSD and addiction, among others, have received benefits from gardening therapies.  Reduction in anxiety, increased memory, improvement in social interaction skills, better sleep and more stable moods are some of the positive results of gardening.

One study from a public housing community in the U.K. found that even a small garden can provide space for residents to learn new skills and “get their hands dirty” giving them a sense of connection to the earth and to the community.  Patients with mild to moderate depression are recommended to the garden program and spend from six months to a year learning to plant flowers and vegetables.  Results show success comparable to “talking therapies” and a strong emphasis on working with groups and the community that is also a healing process for many.

Philosophical connection to nature and the roots of life

Even if you only have space for a few potted plants, caring for them and watching them grow can be a great help in stress management and positive outlook, and those who have access to even a small patch of soil can experience the wonder of planting seeds and seeing plants come forth.  Working with plants reminds us of our deep ancestral connection with the green world, and encourages us to follow more natural rhythms of life ourselves.  Give it a try!