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Garden-based therapy: When horticulture becomes healthcare

This pioneering rehabilitation backyard in Alnarp, simply exterior Malmo, spreads over 1.5 hectares and has been designed in order that the temper regularly shifts from the formal (greenhouses, raised beds and hedges, say) to the casual (giant bushes and lengthy views).

The Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden was established in 2001.

The Alnarp Rehabilitation Backyard was established in 2001.Credit score:Anna Maria Palsdottir

“There are completely different themes in numerous components of the backyard as a result of after we took folks there we needed to see their response, the place they went and what they needed to do.”

What they observed is that whether or not members had been born in Sweden or migrated from the Center East, whether or not they grew up in cities or within the countryside, all of them gravitated in direction of the identical kind of areas.

“Folks appreciated the extra pure vegetation that was not too strict and never too formal, as a result of that set off emotions of demanding landscapes that should be taken care of,” Palsdottir says.

In what is going to curiosity all folks eager to make gardens that really feel good to be in, she says folks had been additionally drawn to areas the place there was vegetation of various heights, together with a decrease, center and higher storey, and the sensation of “rooms”, which assist foster a way of security.

Folks appreciated there to be seasonal flowers, scents and sounds in addition to a spread of textures. Palsdottir says the presence of water and stones was additionally very important as a result of they made folks “really feel half of an entire ecosystem and at one with nature”.

A map detailing the different zones of the Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden.

A map detailing the completely different zones of the Alnarp Rehabilitation Backyard.Credit score:Gunnar Cerwen

Palsdottir, whose first job was propagating vegetation for an enormous Icelandic nursery, says the “sport changer” for her was working at a botanical backyard in Reykjavik the place she was charged with caring for visiting kids. “I simply needed to observe them round and see what they needed to study. They did not wish to learn the indicators, they needed to see this little bug or one thing on the bottom. That they had enjoyable and I believed this must be enjoyable for grown-ups too.”

She started doing a grasp’s in environmental psychology, moved to Sweden and, in 2007, began conducting analysis on the Alnarp Rehabilitation Backyard. Her findings are actually being utilized to well being coverage and planning.

Whereas some pioneering applications exist in Victoria, together with one run for nearly twenty years by Steven Wells at Austin Well being and the greater than 40-year-old Kevin Heinze Develop, affiliate professor on the College of Melbourne John Rayner, who runs a therapeutic horticulture topic as a part of an city horticulture program, says there’s room for extra native initiatives.


He says he hopes Palsdottir’s discuss will encourage extra dialogue in regards to the place for formal horticultural and nature-based intervention applications that may be tailor-made to go well with a person’s wants.

The Therapeutic Horticulture Australia Convention 2022 is on-line and on the College of Melbourne’s Burnley Campus on 1 October.

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