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horticultural therapy

Healing gardens provide beautiful therapy

Geriatric and chronic care patients at Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital often need help improving their fine motor skills, muscle tone, range of motion, strength, and even peace of mind.

Master gardener Kirk Hines considers the Wesley Woods greenhouse another clinical space where patients can improve their skills through growing plants in therapy sessions or just enjoying the relaxation gardening can bring. For patients who can’t come to the garden, Hines brings gardening inside or even to their bedside.

“We want our patients to be successful,” says Hines. “Gardening draws on long-term memory for many of them. While they are planting tomato seeds or digging in the dirt, it takes away the anxiety they feel away from home. They don’t feel like they are in a hospital environment.”

Hines is a registered horticultural therapist who founded the program at Wesley Woods in 1993. Over those 17 years he has turned the gardens into a showpiece for sensory stimulation, with healing gardening spaces including courtyards with handrails, special walkways, and shady seating areas with fountains and goldfish.

When patients are discharged they often take the plants they have grown home with them, and many appreciative families have pitched in with their own labor and materials to keep the gardens beautiful.

Visit Emory Health magazine for more information about the healing gardens.

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