‘Horticulture as a Medical Treatment’ – The Report


As posted on my Winston Churchill Fellowship blog page (www.thetravellinght.wordpress.com), I have recently completed the report on the findings of my horticultural therapy travels to the USA and Canada. It has been published on the WCMT website and is free to read and download from: http://goo.gl/NroUSc

St. Joesph’s Health Centre, Guelph, Canada

I was recently in Guelph in Canada and managed to visit a couple of horticultural therapy projects, unfortunately this was not one of them due to staff being unavailable, but I thought this was an interesting article about their service.

This article has been taken from ‘H News’ – Canada’s Health Care Newspaper:

Complementing life at St. Joseph’s Health Centre

We all know that people are living longer and that there will be more of us as time goes on. The people who are in long term care now are cared for by knowledgeable, discerning spouses and children who are demanding that their relative get the most out of their last days at their new home. This means that they want more than the requisite, and very important, attention given to the activities of daily living for their loved one. They want the home to provide regular access to complementary leisure and recreation therapies so that life in this new home can somewhat emulate life as it used to be before moving in. Horticultural Therapy is one of these complementary therapies and is instrumental in normalizing the new home.

The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association (CHTA) espouses the use of horticulture and related activities to improve the well-being of individuals. It is a holistic, complementary therapy that enriches us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Horticultural Therapy is a productive, non-threatening way to achieve pre-determined goals. It is intervention based and has measurable outcomes.

Every day at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Wanda Fabbian, Registered Horticultural Therapist, has an opportunity to deliver Horticultural Therapy to many people who live there. Monday begins the week with an evening group who, this week, will use cut dogwood, curly willow, and evergreens to create a winter patio pot. The branches have been cut from the property, and some have been donated by volunteers and staff. The ingenuity and impetus is the residents’. Not only do they get to do something for themselves they also contribute to the overall beauty of the environment.

On Tuesdays, the Greenthumbs, Men’s Horticulture Group, will continue to clean garden tools in preparation for next season. The tools are familiar to them and just when you think they are not going to talk someone starts to remember their days on the farm, or in their garden. Men are reticent to talk much at all when they are together so this group is particularly challenging to stimulate and when someone speaks you listen.

Sunflower’s is the women’s Hort. Group and there is no problem with chit chat in this group. Although, often the concentration level is also high and sometimes this makes for some silence. However, this is easily overcome when tea is served and the sweet tray is passed around. Women tend to share so much more about themselves and their families and a horticultural group is a great venue for this sharing. It is like the olden days when women gathered to accomplish a task for the greater good. So, this group makes pressed flower greeting cards and bookmarks for their own use, and to sell in our annual harvest sale.

The sale is now so successful that all the horticultural groups and some individuals are busy preparing for it as early as May. That is, as soon as the pansies are ready to be cut and pressed. But, it is the Food Adventurers that are the real stars of the sale. From June until September, this group assembles weekly to wash, peel, core, chop, and cook a variety of vegetables and fruit to make some pretty exotic preserves, such as Rose Petal Jam and Raspberry-Thyme Jelly. Their reputation precedes them so that they now have repeat business and sell out items.

Perhaps the most successful recipients of Horticultural Therapy are the folks with Alzheimer’s related dementia. A unique and special group of people with specific needs who respond very well to horticulture activities that are visible and almost instantly accomplished. The successes with this client group vary from starkly obvious to softly subtle. It is the accumulation of these successes that makes Horticultural Therapy a viable alternative to health and well-being.

The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association is committed to promoting Horticultural Therapy. The association has existed for 18 years and yet it is surprising how many people still have not heard about the discipline. I think now is the time to introduce it to your facility, whether you are in an active hospital, long term care or day program. As facilitators of care we have a responsibility to enrich the lives of our clients.


Wanda Fabbian

Wanda Fabbian, BA is a registered horticultural therapist. For more information regarding the CHTA visit our website at www.chta.ca. By becoming a member you can learn more about the discipline of Horticultural Therapy and also, to help support the cause.

To view the full article please visit: http://www.hospitalnews.com/complementing-life-at-st-josephs-health-centre/

The Travelling HT and Winston Churchill

Some of you may have noticed that there has been a lack of updates on this site recently. This is due to me being in North America visiting various horticultural therapy projects and attending the American Horticultural Therapy Association annual conference.

To follow the progress and learn more about these visits please see: http://www.thetravellinght.wordpress.com

Winston Churchill and Horticultural Therapy

I am delighted and somewhat humbled to announce that I have been awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to research and experience horticultural therapy practices in North America.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust funds people to travel and visit places carrying out best practice in their professional field. The Trust started after the death of Winston Churchill and people have been travelling under the Trust since the 1960’s. At present the Trust offers 125 fellowships each year.

This is generally the main reason things have gone a little quite on this blog recently as I have been organising flights, accommodation and visits.

In order to raise the profile of the Winston Churchill Trust and not to hijack this one I have set up a separate blog which will document my thoughts, feelings and findings as I progress throughout the project. This blog can be found here: http://thetravellinght.wordpress.com/

More information on the Churchill Trust can be found here: www.wcmt.org.uk I fully recommend looking at the website and considering an application. They have been an absolute pleasure to work with, very supportive and understanding throughout.