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What is Social and Therapeutic Horticulture?


When I talk to other people about Social and Therapeutic Horticulture I always have to start by explaining what this rather wordy title actually means. In essence Social and Therapeutic Horticulture is all about using plants and gardens to improve someone's physical and mental health and to also support and improve their communication and thinking skills.


This definition seems quite straightforward but Social and Therapeutic Horticulture is a very flexible thing. It can be used in many different ways and a huge variety of settings. It can provide support and benefit to people at any age or stage in their lives or with any disability or difficulty.

Here are just some of the ways people can be supported by Social and Therapeutic Horticulture:

  • Using gardening activities to regain physical strength and mobility after a stroke or accident

  • Providing community gardening or nature based activities to connect people who feel isolated

  • Using horticulture to help develop new skills to enable re-entry into the workplace or education

  • Using horticulture and the natural environment to support wellbeing and better mental health for people who are depressed or anxious

Social and Therapeutic Horticulture activities may be used in schools and nurseries, hospitals, prisons or detention centres or refuges. There are also many local community projects using Social and Therapeutic Horticulture such as community allotments, gardens and city farms.


Social and Therapeutic Horticulture is so much more than just a 'gardening club'. Each project, charity or group use it in their own way, but the ultimate aim is to help and support people by connecting them to nature and the environment to improve their social , mental and physical wellbeing.


It is not a new concept - ancient civilisations as far back as the Egyptians were using gardening as a form of therapy but in our modern lives, and particularly through the past year, reconnecting with nature, plants and the environment has never been more important.


If you or someone you know is looking for a local Social and Therapeutic Horticulture project to join or support, the charity Thrive is a great place to start. They have an information service that lists many of the projects in England and also have a wealth of information and tips on their website. Find out more at www.thrive.org.uk.

Trellis in Scotland is also a wonderful place to gain information. See what they have to offer at www.trellisscotland.org.uk

And the Gardening4health directory also lists projects across the UK that offer a huge variety of services including those using Social and Therapeutic Horticulture as part of their activities . Find out more at www.gardening4health.co.uk



Have a great week everyone, go and enjoy everything that Spring has to offer! :)




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