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World Therapeutic Horticultural Day: What is it and why is it so important?

by | 17 May 24 | Domestic Landscaping, Long Reads | 0 comments

Almost15,000 people are supported by Trellis each month. The national charity for therapeutic horticulture supports around 520 groups across Scotland and parts of the UK, each with an average of 27 people taking part every week.

It started in 2006 with just its CEO, Fiona Thackeray aided by a part time assistant, and a small group of volunteers serving approximately 83 projects. Trellis  has since grown remarkably, with both full-time and part-time staff working across the nation, along with a team of freelancers who travel to provide on-site support helping groups set up programmes of therapeutic horticulture, a practice that involves using plants, gardens, and nature to help people improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Launching World Therapeutic Horticultural Day on 18 May a year ago was a pivotal moment for Trellis, giving the charity an opportunity to shout about the benefits it provides. “It’s really a chance to highlight this emerging practice and profession,” says Thackeray, “Although it has ancient roots and has been around for decades, therapeutic horticulture is like the best kept secret profession.

“The day shines a light on therapeutic horticulture around the world, the evolving practice, the people who offer therapeutic horticulture services and the benefits they bring to communities around the world. Despite its ancient origins and decades of practice, the field needs more promotion to ensure everyone can benefit.”

The World Day initiative is aimed at welcoming like-minded people from across the globe to share their knowledge, experiences, and ambitions. According to Thackeray, the feedback from the inaugural day in 2023 has been incredible. “We were able to get a great sense of just how many people liked the idea and would get on board without much persuasion – which turned out to be a lot of people!”

Therapeutic horticulture stands out as a unique avenue for nurturing both mental and physical health and there are many reasons to celebrate the practice. It has been shown by over 30 years of research evidence to be an effective approach to help people deal with a wide range of physical and mental health conditions.

“There are some really fascinating studies from Japan and Korea showing that when gardening, or even just being near plants, your blood pressure starts to go down into a nice healthy zone, your heart rate slows down, and things like pain, anxiety, fear, and stress all seem to drop,” says Thackeray. “There’s something about being in a green space that’s so good for your wellbeing.”

Set to raise awareness of its benefits and accessibility, World Therapeutic Horticulture Day will continue to spread important messages and insights for both practitioners and clients to take on board, allowing gardening to be used as a way of “helping people to help themselves.”

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