Staff Training to support Horticulture Therapy

Engaging patients in gardens, to support and enhance mental health recovery

The Dales OT team pleased with their Cooking focused raised bed now ready to grow, flourish and entice patients

In the initial department development work, we met with The Dales Occupational Therapist team to look at how we could support and enhance their mental health therapeutic care. The OT’s were keen to develop horticulture therapy which would make use of the wards private gardens and complement the varied activities already in place, including arts, crafts and cooking.

We delivered training to Occupational Therapists in March this year and we are currently in the process of recording developments and planting post-training as well as undertaking ground work for a pilot Permaculture Recovery Programme and new garden designs ready for Summer Delivery.

Training Summary

The training explored the following:

  • The importance of gardens for health & wellbeing
  • What Horticulture Therapy is
  • Ideas for Therapeutic Gardens at The Dales & related garden maintainence
  • Activities to support horticulture therapy and engaging people with the gardens
  • Other Terminology

Ideas for Therapeutic Gardens at The Dales & related garden maintenance

Our proposed aims for The Dales gardens:

  • Beautiful & rich environments;
  • Opportunities for patients to undertake gardening activities, such a planting seeds, applying mulch and watering;
  • Opportunities for patients to sit within the garden space, this can include formal seating or informal seating such as fold out chairs and rugs;
  • Ways for staff to inspire patients to respond to the gardens with related activities;
  • Opportunities to take a plant away on discharge for their own garden or windowsill
  • Low-maintenance environments to reduce burden on staff teams.


Development at the Dales began with simple raised bed planting schemes.

Planting schemes are combinations of plants, often used to create a particular style of garden or to provoke a particular response from those experiencing it.

Trees for Wellbeing promotes a method, used by sustainable gardeners, known as plant guild design, which combines the form and function of plants with the aim to create a self-sustaining system.

Training Participants hard at work combining plants, learning about soil, plant positioning & care & maintenance
Packing soil around three of the cooking guild plants, kale, rhubarb and spinach to finish the bed off and provide the right nurture for the plants to thrive.

Plants in this type of scheme help support one another other to grow and develop. This is called companion planting. They also provide benefits to people, such as production of food or materials.

The Trees for Wellbeing Team developed designs for two raised beds already established outside the activity rooms used by patients.

planted boxes dales028
Hand-drawn design of planting schemes: Left Box (Cooking Scheme) – 1. Apple Tree 2. Rhubarb 3. Kale 4. Creeping Rosemary 5. Ornamental Comfrey 6. Ornamental Spinach 7. Creeping Strawberrues; Right Box (Herbal Teas Scheme) – 8. Apple Tree 9. Lemon Balm 10. Lavender 11. Thyme 12. Chamomile 13. Cornflowers.

We identified Maintenance & Gardening Activities with Patients, and activities inspired by the garden including cooking suggestions and guidance, and arts and crafts activities. Last of all, we provided one of our ‘Art of Tea’ boxes which would provides a box of tea goodies, including a range of the Trees for Wellbeing herbal teas, teapot and cups, recipes and prompts.

If you would like to hear more about the training we provide, please get in touch with: Beth Morgan | Project Coordinator | | 07771202702

~ By Beth Morgan


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