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Fall 2011 Newsletter

Linking People and Plants

HTI Director’s Note: HT in the Fall Garden

Rebecca Haller, HTI Director

Fall approaches. What a bountiful time in the garden! Cooler evenings bring out new fragrances and color. As the harvest progresses, you may feel the urge to replace annual flowers and veggies with fresh beds of salad greens or pansies for winter color. It is also a time for learning. The start of school signals a renewed energy toward study and exploration.

For HT programs, these seasonal urges are opportunities. Now may be a particularly good time to get participants to discuss and think about what has taken place over the summer. What growth has occurred – both in the gardens and in themselves? It is also a time of letting go. As we prepare gardens for upcoming frost and dormancy, we say goodbye to what was there in the summer. We literally replace something that is finished with something more appropriate for current and future conditions.  What a great opening for personal reflection and using the garden situations as analogies for life.

Enjoy the new season and gather the bounty!

Fall Fundamentals of HT classes enrolling now!

The three fall Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy classes are still open for enrollment. Join students from across the country and learn how to combine a passion for gardening and helping people through the innovative field of horticultural therapy from the leaders in HT education. The HT Institute has been providing horticultural therapy education for nearly 20 years and this year saw a record 72 students graduate from the certificate program in series in Colorado, California and North Carolina.

Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis, MO
Oct. 6-9, 2011
Enrollment deadline extended: Sept. 19, 2011

Anchor Center for Blind Children
Denver, CO
Nov. 3-6, 2011
Enrollment deadline: Oct. 3, 2011

Skyland Trail
Atlanta, GA
Nov. 17-20, 2011
Enrollment deadline: Oct. 17, 2011

To enroll go to or call 303-388-0500.

For those attending the fall Denver class students have the opportunity to view the HT program at Craig Hospital a private, non-profit physical rehabilitation hospital specializing exclusively in the treatment of spinal cord and traumatic brain injury. Craig’s HT Program is an integral part of the Therapeutic Recreation Department and has been in existence since 1982. Staffed by a Registered Horticultural Therapist, Susie Hall, HTR, CTRS, notes that the HT program becomes a part of many patient therapy schedules.

The program features both indoor and outdoor gardening. Inside is a 320 square foot “Green Room” which serves as an indoor treatment venue where patients can learn a variety of propagation techniques as well as the care and maintenance of indoor tropicals. Outside is a Therapy Garden specifically designed as a teaching area for patients. Patients are involved with planting and maintaining this and other campus garden areas. While working on therapeutic goals, they are able to test their gardening skills at planter beds and containers of different types which range in height from 4-30 inches. A variety of path surfaces offer mobility challenges, and other features including a water fountain and wind & art sculptures, contribute to a welcoming and peaceful area for all who visit to enjoy a moment of solace.

The patient’s transition to the home and community setting is a focus for all. Introduction to adaptive tools and equipment maximizes patient independence in all aspects of their horticultural therapy experience. –Susie Hall, HTR, CTRS

In addition to visiting the HT program at Craig Hospital, students in the Denver Fundamentals class will also learn about the HT program at Anchor Center for Blind Children. The Center is a state of the art building and program for visually impaired preschoolers. According to the horticultural therapist on site, Angela Vanderlan, the property boasts a sensory garden and greenhouse for the children. “I began an internship in 2007, investigating and growing the garden spaces with curious preschoolers. Horticultural Therapy provides a perfect multiple sensory experience while introducing young children to nature,” she said. Four years later, the preschoolers continue to grow and enjoy sunflowers, a pizza garden and share the pride the students experience by growing.

Spreading Horticultural Therapy Internationally

by Daniela Silva-Rodriquez

Throughout the years, the HT Institute has had the opportunity to train several international students through the HT certificate program. One recent past student of the HT Institute is bringing horticultural therapy back to her home country of Peru. Daniela Silva-Rodriquez offers this account of her HT journey.

Three years ago, a friend of mine, a well-known psychologist here in Peru, told me he was going to build a rehabilitation center for people with alcohol and drug problems in a rural area known as Pachacamac. The area is 20 minutes away from the center of the city in Lima. I expressed to him my interest in developing a horticultural program for his patients. Since he is a “plant lover” he immediately accepted the idea.

A few months later he showed me the setting and asked me to build a plant nursery. I was thrilled!! My relationship with plants started at 8 years of age when I lost my father from a brain injury. Since then my world has been surrounded by flowers and plants and I can’t imagine my life without them. I’ve always wanted to have my own plant nursery, and now my dream has come true.

In 2008 I started my own research on horticultural therapy programs around the world and ordered several books on the topic.  Unfortunately here in Peru, disabled people are totally excluded from society. Things are starting to change, but at a very slow pace. The term horticultural therapy is completely unknown in this country. For me, it is the combination of the two things I enjoy doing the most: working with plants and helping other people. My goal is to have a horticultural therapy institute in Lima, Peru.

It is during my research period when I first read about the AHTA and the HTI and the fantastic work they are doing. I then contacted Rebecca Haller and Christine Kramer expressing my interest in obtaining the HT Certificate. In March 2011 I flew to Denver to attend a course.  Rebecca’s lectures were full of useful information but above all, her commitment and her experience with working with disabled people is what touched me the most. I am looking forward to attending the other courses next year and sharing our experiences.

Book Review:
A French Doctor Praises the Virtues of Horticultural Therapy

by Isabelle Boucq, Current HTI Student

In this alternatively theoretical and practical book, Quand jardiner soigne, Dr. Denis Richard, department head at a mental health hospital in Poitiers, France, sets out to convince his countrymen and fellow health practitioners of the benefits of gardens on physical, mental and spiritual health. The French, he admits, have fallen behind in this particular therapeutic field. But first, he recounts the history of the « jardins ouvriers » of the 19th century which were meant to keep the working classes out of trouble and other earlier paternalistic approaches to community gardening. At the end of the book, he writes at great length about the universal importance of gardens as paradise in cultures and religions across time and space. For him, the spiritual dimension of gardening is what gives the practice its healing power, a point he makes more adamantly that the usual HT literature in the US.

In between these historical and spiritual sections, he reviews the different populations that can be helped in the garden as well as basic considerations in setting up a healing garden. In conclusion, the book quickly describes eight French healing gardens, most of them designed for elders by Anne Ribes, who seems to be the star of horticultural therapists in France. While the author doesn’t explain why the French have fallen behind (he vaguely invokes a cultural difference in how gardens and green spaces are perceived in France), he believes that the current search for a renewed relationship with Nature makes this the perfect time to discover « hortithérapie » both to heal patients and to stay healthy because we have “a natural empathy for living things”.

Quand jardiner soigne (When gardening heals)
by: Denis Richard, Delachaux et Niestlé, 2011