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An Introduction to Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural Therapy, an introduction:

Hi, and welcome to the blog. We've been at it for a few months now, and I'm thankful for everyone that has participated. Today I want to talk about an incredible concept: Horticultural Therapy.

We will be touching on the foundational elements of this concept and several connected points before we get started. I want to introduce myself and share why this subject is so important.

I'm Joe Grumbine, the one behind this site and community. I have been working with "Healthy Living" people for the past thirty-five years, and I'm confident this blog, forum, and upcoming podcast will positively impact many people's lives. Recently, I launched a non-profit named The Gardens of Hope, and the Mission is to bring Horticultural therapy to people in need. We're building this organization at our property in Perris, California. A place known as Willow Creek Springs. My wife and I have been working on this property for more than twenty-six years, and it is a 2.5-acre spot at the end of the road up against the hills. We have been practicing permaculture techniques and have a seasonal stream, a small pond, and gardens featuring food and valuable herbs. Pathways and plentiful shade, and places to sit and reflect make this place a perfect location to provide horticultural therapy.

What is Horticultural Therapy?

According to Wikipedia: Horticultural therapy is defined by the American Horticultural Therapy Association as the engagement of a person in gardening and plant-based activities facilitated by a trained therapist to achieve specific therapeutic treatment goals. We plan to bring in and train some 'Therapists," so technically, I guess we're talking about therapeutic horticulture, which involves the use of garden environments as a therapeutic intervention. This can include the growth, care, and maintenance of these environments and spending time in gardens. Therapeutic horticulture is widely used across a broad range of settings; it can be used as a form of rehabilitation (physical or otherwise), a vocational tool, a way to foster community, and more!

I will discuss programs, studies, and benefits in great detail in future posts and podcast episodes. I invite any certified horticultural therapist or practitioner of any healing art to reach out if you are interested in participating in this project. Click Here

A list of potential benefits from Horticultural Therapy:

Physical benefits include

  • Exercise, movement, and increased physical activity

  • Increases strength, stamina, agility, and endurance

  • Increases range of motion and balance.

  • Stimulates all of the senses


  • Practicing effective communication skills

  • Increases problem-solving skills

  • Exercising attention span and focus on the task

  • Strengthen and reinforce neural pathways


  • Increases interaction and decreases isolation

  • Community building

  • Contributing to teamwork and collaboration

  • Participating in group decision making


  • A safe environment to process grief, trauma, and stress-related disorders,

  • A natural setting to benefit

  • Horticultural therapy relieves anxiety- one of the underlying causes of alcoholism and addiction.

Examples of Activities:

  • Sowing seeds

  • Drying herbs and making herbal sachets

  • Harvesting produce to keep or share

  • Potting up annuals or herbs to take home

  • Exercising the senses and vocabulary with plants

Reference to studies. I will discuss studies of Horticultural therapy in detail in the future, but here are a couple of snippets to start with. Improves your mood. An article published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation found that one of the benefits of horticultural therapy is that it improves mood. The study measured changes in total mood disturbance among cardiac rehab patients who participated in horticultural therapy compared to those in patient education classes. Participants in horticultural therapy reported significant decreases in total mood disturbance, while it remained unchanged in the patient education group.

Improves social skills. Several studies illustrate the benefits of horticultural therapy for improving social and interpersonal skills. In addition to increasing social participation and promoting healthy interpersonal relationships, horticultural therapy improves self-awareness and helps individuals relate better to others.

Improves memory and cognition. One study found that horticultural therapy reduced attention fatigue and promoted a higher level of attention. It also improved alertness and concentration and lowered chronic stress, which can reduce the ability to learn and remember. Issues with memory and thinking aren’t uncommon among people in recovery, but the good news is that this is often reversible, and horticultural therapy can help.

Promotes emotional growth. According to Virginia Tech horticulture professor Diane Relf, horticultural therapy improves self-confidence and self-esteem and helps to strengthen self-control by redirecting aggressive feelings. Horticultural therapy also promotes curiosity, rekindles interest in the future, and satisfies the creative human drive.

Reduces stress. It’s commonly understood that engaging in gardening activities and interacting with nature reduces stress and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. But research shows that horticultural therapy can also help the body learn to respond better to stress, reducing its harmful effects like increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Please reach out if you're interested in this project!


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