Horticultural therapy is a time-proven practice. The therapeutic benefits of garden environments have been documented as early as the 19th century, when Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and recognized as the "father of American psychiatry," wrote of the positive effect gardening had on individuals with mental illness.
In the 1940s and 1950s, rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans significantly expanded acceptance of the practice. No longer limited to treating mental illness, horticultural therapy practice was embraced for a wider range of diagnoses. Today, horticultural therapy is widely used within a range of rehabilitative, vocational and community settings.
Horticultural therapy techniques are employed to assist participants to learn new skills or regain those that are lost. Horticultural therapy helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance and endurance. In vocational horticultural therapy settings, people learn to work independently, problem solve and follow directions.
(Source: AHTA website)