Horticultural therapy for Northfleet Hospice


Katie Gardner is a horticultural therapist, sharing her love of plants with ellenor hospice

Submitted for publication by ellenor

Charity Hospice Ellenor has launched its Green Shoots sessions, a green-fingered therapy that encourages patients and their families to embrace nature.

Green Shoots sessions will suit all abilities and will involve planting bulbs and seeds and taking cuttings, as well as activities like flower pressing and regular houseplant surgery. Most of the activities take place indoors so that the class is accessible to all, but there will be a few opportunities to explore the hospice garden.

Horticultural therapist Katie Gardner now visits Northfleet Hospice weekly to pass on her love of plants and the natural world. Sessions are open to everyone, patients, families, bereaved and community members. Katie has over ten years experience as a professional gardener, is trained in HRH and has completed a course with the horticultural therapy charity Thrive.

Katie said: “Feeling at one with nature is relaxing and mindful. If you’ve ever grown an orchid on your windowsill or fed the birds in your garden, you’ll know how good it feels. So when you’re feeling down, stressed or lonely, it’s even more important to take the time to care for a plant or learn about the little beasts that inhabit our open spaces and the insects that help pollinate our flowers and our fruit. ”

“In an ideal world, we’d all be out for much of the day getting some fresh air and connecting with the natural world around us. But modern life means that’s rarely the norm for most people. And people who are sick, elderly or caring for a loved one are even less likely to come out.

“That’s why bringing nature indoors is even more important, especially for people who have been avid gardeners or have worked outdoors in the past, or who may have enjoyed long walks in the countryside.”

During the covid pandemic, the importance of enjoying our natural world has been particularly important, both for mental and physical health. The benefits of horticultural therapy are becoming widely recognized and some doctors are now even prescribing it to patients with milder forms of depression and minor health issues.

Katie said: “A few years ago I volunteered with Ellenor’s former Green Shoots gardening group and then went on to run horticultural therapy classes at two seniors’ residences. Of course the pandemic meant that those sorts of sessions had to be scrapped, so I’m very glad the restrictions have now been lifted and Ellenor’s wellness manager Andy Lowden has been able to secure funding for therapy as important.

“The hospice already has a lovely garden, but there are plans to create something even friendlier and more environmentally friendly, a place where touch and smell are as important as wielding a large shovel.”

Green Shoots therapy sessions take place weekly from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Reservations are not necessary and sessions are open to all.

If you have plastic pots, small gardening tools or gloves, seeds, bulbs, gardening magazines or compost that you would like to donate, please email [email protected]

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