A child asks his mother "Mom, will these plants live in this flower box?" She answers "sure, honey, plants are strong and tough, like us."
The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) describes horticultural therapy as a method that uses plants, gardening activities, and the natural world in professional therapy and rehabilitation programs.
Horticultural therapists act as advocates for access for people of all ages and abilities. They are adept at connecting communities with gardens and developing outreach programs, and at providing professional training and on-site therapeutic programs.
The horticultural therapy programs at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are designed to further a deep connection to nature with a landscape that will stimulate and strengthen mental, emotional, and physical balance. The gardens support participants with activities both active and passive in nature.
The summer programs at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens serve many diverse groups, including the Mountain Hospice volunteers, families facing medical adversity, and the Buddies (child/adult mentor) program. Spending time in the garden provides stress relief, one of the many benefits of horticultural therapy. The harvest program with the Buddies also provided participants with educational knowledge in nutrition, with the kids harvesting, washing, and preparing salads from the garden that they had planted earlier in the spring.