Horticultural therapy uses plants, gardens, and landscapes as a therapeutic treatment to improve cognition and promote a sense of physical, social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. In this week’s tip, we’ll discuss a few ways you can incorporate horticultural therapy techniques into your garden. People of all ages and all backgrounds can benefit and we think you’ll love it too.

1. Treat your garden as a refuge from the stress and headaches of daily life
Breathe deep and relax whenever you’re in your garden. The garden should be a source of joy rather than another task or chore to check off. One of the most frequent ways we hear people enjoying their garden is to take a few minutes every morning with their hot cup of coffee/tea to just enjoy the time before the rush of the day begins. Changing your mindset and attitude when it comes to interacting, enjoying, and being in your garden space is one of the first steps to using your garden as horticultural therapy

2. Engage all your senses when enjoying your garden
Gardens can stimulate all of our senses. Whether it is a splash of colour from flowers, garden containers or accent pieces, colour is one of the easiest ways to engage your sense of sight. For smell, add in fragrant herbs or fragrant flowers. Some of our favourites are lavender (which serves double duty as both a flower and herb), roses, and lemon balm. For taste, grow some vegetables and eat it fresh from the garden or incorporate it into your next cooked meal. For hearing, think about adding in a water feature or wind chime to add movement and sound into your garden space. For touch, use plants with different textures such as curly kale or smooth skinned tomatoes. Different types of trees and shrubs can also provide unique touch sensations such as evergreen trees, the barks of different trees and even just plunging your hands and fingers into a freshly dug bed.

3. Invite friends into your garden
Sharing your garden with friends and family is a great way to add another dimension to your garden. For others, this could be creating a suitable habitat for other forms of wildlife to live nearby. Hopefully you aren’t attracting unwanted wildlife like deer or groundhogs, but they are a part of our ecosystem if you step back and look at the big picture.

These are just a few examples when it comes to incorporating elements of horticultural therapy into your garden.

Cover Image by Phil Roeder, used under its Creative Commons license.

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