It’s been quite a journey from start to finish, but my book on Designing, planting and Using a Therapeutic Garden has now been published. It is intended as a practical guide; designed to support range of people who want to use plants, gardens and nature to improve the wellbeing and health outcomes of individuals and different user groups. Whether you are a teacher, occupational therapist, garden designer, activity co-ordinator, residential care staff or a community garden volunteer you will find useful tips and advice, no matter how large or small your outdoor space.
The book is written from my perspective, as someone who has delivered sessions to a range of groups in many types of therapeutic garden. I trained primarily as a horticulturalist, but also have a background in garden design and project management as well as being a qualified teacher. I have often developed therapeutic sessions around whatever was available on a site, whether that was a food growing allotment or an attractive ornamental garden. However, by far the best gardens for therapeutic sessions are those that have been consciously designed to meet the needs of their users. This does not preclude them from being beautiful or useful but has the added dimension of a sensitivity to accessibility and to providing material and inspiration for therapeutic horticulture sessions throughout the year.
There are four parts to the book;
1. Getting Started
This section will help you reflect on what makes a therapeutic garden and how if differs from a sensory garden. It then shows you how to systematically explore the needs of your potential garden users and the features of the site you’ll be using.
2. Design Considerations
Here you can find tips on accessibility, movement through the garden, special facilities, maintenance and health and safety considerations.
3. Therapeutic Activities
This is an extensive section with plenty of ideas for therapeutic activities suitable for a range of user groups throughout the year. The ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ provides a framework for all the activities, so that all relate to at least one of these five areas; Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Take Notice and Give.
4. Final Planning Stage and Plant Choices
Here you can finalise your garden plans and have a directory of 100 Therapeutic Plants to use as a resource for your garden designs and therapeutic sessions.
I hope that you find the book useful, but if you need any further advice or training I offer a consultancy service to organisations, so do contact me to discuss your needs.