Gentle gardening helps sick patients relax and recover

A horticultural therapist, Lori Bloomberg, from New York University Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation center in Manhattan, brought two patients a cart filled with bright green foliage to try out an activity: arranging bamboo stalks in a vase.

The patients, Rita Belfiore, who was recovering from a hip replacement surgery, and Carol, who was recovering from spinal surgery, carefully wrapped rubber bands around their bamboo clusters, filled glass vases with tiny red stones, then added water along with the plants.

Horticultural therapy, like the one promoted by Bloomberg, uses nature and gardening-like activities to help patients feel better. It is often used in hospitals, recovery centers, prisons, and therapy programs.

The American Horticultural Therapy Association suggests that horticultural therapy can facilitate a deeper kind of interspecies connection that could benefit us all.

Plants can be well taken care of, while humans can enjoy improvements in their mental conditions such as reduced stress, lighter moods, and an elevated well-being.

Horticulture therapy first took root in the United States after World War I. It was used as a treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD. The practice was later applied to different purposes such as reforming delinquents and improving health conditions of patients.

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