During our time in the school garden we’ve been privileged to spend a lot of time to children with special needs. We wanted to further benefit their time spent in the garden and ensure our garden is accessible and inclusive to everyone. Therapeutic Gardening at Holmesglen was recommended to us to increase beneficial outcomes for all our garden visitors.
We are currently in the process of creating a sensory garden within our school and anticipate it to be used by a variety of individuals. This course was perfect for us to gather factual information around the topic of creating such a special garden. Bonbeach Primary is in the beginning stages of establishing a parent group for students with special needs, so we expect this to be a welcomed addition to the well accepted garden within the grounds.
What is a Therapeutic Gardening? it is a plant-dominated environment purposefully designed to facilitate interaction with the healing elements of nature. It is specifically designed to meet the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the people using the garden as well as their caregivers, family members and friends. Interactions can be passive or active depending on the garden design and users’ needs. There are many sub-types of therapeutic gardens including healing gardens, enabling gardens, rehabilitation gardens, and restorative gardens and sensory.
Many benefits of gardening go unnoticed: a sense of belonging, a sense of achievement and a sense of being needed. Studies have been noted that psychological benefits of gardening include reduced anxiety and stress, increased self-confidence and reduced anger outbursts. Therapeutic gardening dates back to the 1800’s.
During our course, we absorbed information across a broad range of disciplines including physical disabilities, psychiatric, mental disabilities, geriatric/dementia, social deviation, substance abuse, sensory impairments, youth/children with varying degrees of autism and special needs.
Horticultural expert, Paul le da Mott created a few activities for us using pressed flowers and leaves which was quite fiddly but very fun. During the activities informal banter and discussions about types of projects that would be great for kids came into focus and we adapted a few while we played with collections of fallen autumn leaves and pressed flowers. Factors that thrived and features that failed, were discussed as we turned to propagating plant cuttings that we gathered from around the grounds of Holmesglen. We took home multiple pots of newly propagated sensory plants to grow for our new space along with some excess Silverbeet seedlings to take back to our school garden to plant. Paul loved the idea of our garden and is really keen to visit so we told him we’ll cook him a lunch from the garden with help from the kids.
Therapeutic gardening has brought new ideas to the front and taught us a little more about the beneficial factors of gardening with people who may need extra special attention. And why not! We love sharing our gardening experiences with everyone, whether its Growing, Harvesting or Cooking! Bringing wellness to people through the garden is what we love, so………Therapeutic Gardeners, wellness gardeners, we are quite happy with the term Wellness Warriors!
To find out more about Therapeutic gardening head to Horticultural Therapy Victoria