In the world of Garden design you will find styles and schematics with a purpose driving their construction.  When one focuses on the health and well-being of a gardens visitors, as the purpose. We know this to be one of the inspirations behind any garden design but the below design terms are used often in the field of Horticulture therapy and Therapeutic Horticulture.

Garden designed for the purpose of supporting the Health and Wellness of its population.  Whether you are a patient in day program, living in a short term recovery centre, or rehabilitating at home. Maybe you’re caring for a loved one.  Studies show that participating in activities and visiting a garden, plant or natural environment is therapeutic on many levels.

When researching gardens for health and wellness, you will undoubtedly find a great amount of resources.  Knowing which terms to look for can really narrow your search and help to refine your information, making the time devoted on the research phase more efficient.

Below you will find terms most commonly used in HT and TH Design;

Restorative Garden Design:

The term “Healing Garden” and “Restorative Garden” are often used interchangeably. These garden designs focus on fostering health and wellbeing in regards to: physical, emotional and spiritual health.  These gardens implement design principles such as reflection, sensory stimulation, light and dark spaces etc. On many occasions they incorporate a memorial space, resting place or spiritual representations.

I.E. Japanese gardens, residential gardens, local parks and recreation installations

Therapeutic Garden Design:

A “therapeutic Landscape” is more focused.  It is designed to have an effect on the perceived patient/s with measurable outcomes, (cognitive, physical, emotional and spiritual),that are able to be observed and/or recorded.  Gardens that boast this title are often designed for a particular patient or “population” of patients, families and the healthcare staff that work on the properties where the gardens are found. These gardens incorporate areas for walking, minimize negative intrusions using light and sound, have a prevalence of green materials over hardscaping, clearly identifiable features etc.

I.E. Recovery and Rehabilitation centres, Long term care facilities, Hospitals and healthcare environments, municipal parks & community centres.

Commonly used in the field, is another Design term, “The Enabling Gardens”.  Described as a garden that is accesible and engaging to people of all ages and abilities.  We define enable;

en·a·ble: tr.v. en·a·bleden·a·blingen·a·bles

1. nounTo supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity; make able
2. verb. 1. To provide (someone) with adequate power, means, opportunity, or authority (to do something)
The term “Enable” has become a term used to imply a positive action with a negative impact.  Referring to the helping (enabling) of others, who then become dependant rather than self reliant.  Though its true, many populations treated in our field are in fact dependant and will always be so.  So you see, if the author is speaking about a specific population, the term “Enabling Gardes” may indeed be fitting.
It’s my opinion that the less we use the term, the less we will run into such confusions or opposition to the term. My mentor and my predecessors have recommended the replacement of the term with the term “Accessible Gardens”.
And you are bound to run across this term if you intend to research Horticulture Therapy.