Designing and planting up a therapeutic garden takes a little more thought compared to your average green space. As in every garden, it’s a must that the right plants are put in the right place and have their basic needs met (climate, soil condition, amount of light, amount of water, air circulation). A therapeutic garden takes it further and considers the needs of the users also. Below are special considerations regarding the selection of plants for a therapy garden.
1) Purpose of the garden and goals for the users. Select plants that are appropriate for the population served, that reinforce the aim of the therapy, and that can be used to supply program activities.
2) Safety. Beware of poisons, toxins, allergens, and/or sharp points found in plants.
3) Maximize interactions. Choose plants that peak attention, inspire awe and fascination, comfort the senses, and draw people into the garden space.
4) Health and Sustainability. Strive to make your garden as therapeutic for the ecosystem as it will be for the users. Choose native plants, plants that local pollinators love, and be sure to avoid plants that are invasive or “bad neighbors” to other plants in the garden.
These are some special considerations when selecting plants for a healing green space.
Zachary Turck, Horticultural Therapist at Isaiah’s Figtree