Under the Glass: News from the Greenhouse


Over the past year I have been part of a team that has created and launched the Therapeutic Horticulture Activity Database (THAD), a great resource for horticultural therapists, allied professionals, and anyone interested in exploring activities that use horticulture in therapeutic ways. The THAD was spearheaded by Lesley Fleming, HTR, who has been active in the field of HT/TH for many years, both as a practitioner and a writer/publisher and who also leads the Nova Scotia and the Florida Horticulture for Health Networks.

The idea for the database originated with Diane Relf, PhD, HTM, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, who was a pioneer in the field of horticultural therapy and a founder of the National Council for Therapy and Rehabilitation through Horticulture which became the American Horticultural Therapy Association in 1988. Housed in the Environmental Horticulture Department at UF, THAD is a collaborative effort between the Florida Horticulture for Health Network, Nova Scotia Horticulture for Health Network, California Horticultural Therapy Network, Mid Atlantic Horticultural Therapy Network, Carolinas Horticultural Therapy Network, and UF’s Certificate in Horticultural Therapy. Alex Lopez, web developer for UF’s Environmental Horticulture Department, created and manages the database.

Activities are an essential element of horticultural therapy (HT) and therapeutic horticulture (TH) programs and ensure that clients are provided opportunities to work on predetermined goals through planned, intentional connection to plants and nature. HT/TH activities are designed to provide beneficial results in physical, cognitive, social, and psychological domains. The activities in THAD have been developed or adapted by HT professionals and comply with standards of practice from the American Horticultural Therapy Association.

THAD is a free resource that currently comprises over 100 activities and uses three primary categories by which to search. These categories include activity type (plant care, propagation, herbs, etc.), goals (cognitive, physical, social, etc.), and populations (rehabilitation, corrections, dementia, etc.). There is also a page that contains every activity in alphabetical order. Activities are added to THAD regularly. Each of the activities in THAD follows the same format and includes the description of the activity, the materials used, and the step-by-step process for delivery. The related therapeutic goals of the activity as well as any safety considerations are also included, as are applications for particular client populations.

It is our hope that THAD will be a much-used resource by practitioners, students, and others interested in learning more about the use of horticulture as a therapeutic modality.

I encourage you to take a peek!

Therapeutic Horticulture Activity Database

Elizabeth “Leah” Diehl, RLA, HTM
Lecturer, Dept. of Environmental Horticulture, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Director of Therapeutic Horticulture, Wilmot Botanical Gardens, College of Medicine