What are therapeutic gardening programs?
Therapeutic gardening programs use gardens and plants as an intervention for individuals working toward improving physical, emotional, psychological, cognitive, or social goals. In therapeutic gardening programs plants are used in planned activities to assist improvement of fine and gross motor skills, sensory stimulation, increased socialization, reduction of stress and anxiety, and to create meaningful experiences. Participants come from a wide range of populations including those with acute memory loss, PTSD, autism, brain injury, sensory disabilities, and spinal cord disorders. Therapeutic gardening programs are often used in conjunction with occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling, palliative care, and other therapies.

How can therapeutic gardening programs benefit me?
The benefits of therapeutic gardening programs are available to everyone. We all understand the calming effect a walk in nature can have on us when life gets too busy or stressful. People with intellectual disabilities can feel more self-confident, Alzheimer’s disease clients can find meaning and self-esteem, those struggling with ADHD can work toward improving their focus and communication skills, and many other people can benefit from these programs. Grief work, substance abuse recovery and trauma recovery are also areas that can be helped with therapeutic gardening programs. The nurturing of a plant is a small but powerful thing.

Lorraine Lee, Therapeutic Gardening Instructor
Combine psychology, art, gardens, and coffee, and you have Lorraine Lee. Lorraine specializes in program design for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and individuals with memory loss. She has given presentations and workshops on gardening, botanic decor, and horticultural therapy across the country. She takes on challenging responsibilities like training educators and counseling caregivers. She is a dedicated and active University of Rhode Island Master Gardener, Certified Activity Consultant, and Certified Dementia Practitioner, which means she’s spent several thousand hours designing and facilitating professional workshops, documenting and analyzing clinical data, and implementing special programs for low functioning residents. As a past chairman of horticultural therapy for Massachusetts State Garden Clubs, and a current member of the Massachusetts Landscape Design Council, Lorraine is dedicated to preserving historic gardens and sites and encouraging young people to be good stewards of our communities. Lorraine earned her Certificate in Horticultural Therapy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her Master’s degree in Counseling and Education from Providence College, and her Bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame de Namur University. Lorraine is also certified as a support group facilitator for Alzheimer’s Association. When she’s not doing research and curriculum design, Lorraine likes to spend time exploring beaches and botanical gardens, kayaking, and spending time with her family.

Working with staff from your organization, our instructor will adapt, prepare, and lead a 90-minute session for up to 12 participants at either Tower Hill or your site. Additional instructor mileage fees apply for off-site programs more than 25 miles away from the Garden. Please contact us using our request form to inquire about scheduling a program. You will receive a reply within 7 business days. Thank you.
Instructor: Lorraine Lee
Class size: 1-12 people (1 staff person is required for every 5 class participants)
Length: 90 minutes
Group Fee: $150 + Materials Fee (mileage fees apply for off-site programs more than over 25 miles)

Programs are listed below:

Be inspired by Tower Hill’s natural setting as you learn about the history of the fern craze in the mid 1800’s and how collectors preserved these lace-like plants. Explore the nature cycle with this hands-on class while experiencing different kinds of fern textures, colors, and specimen. You will create a beautiful botanical pressed fern picture, matted and ready to frame to show case your observations. Participants will also take home a live fern plant to nurture, which will perhaps be the start of a new hobby.
Materials included: pressed fern fronds, fresh fern fronds, fern plants, pots, potting materials, and frames
Program objectives: improve sensory processing and integration, social skills, problem solving, responsiveness, communication skills, and fine and gross motor skills over time; decrease sensory problems
Recommended for: individuals with autism spectrum disorder
Materials Fee: $10/person

Join us for hands-on activity making decorated lavender sachets. Participants will learn about the history of one of the world’s most loved plants, the different kinds of lavender and its uses, and why sachets were so popular during the Victorian era. We will also plant lavender seeds in a small container to bring home and watch grow.
Materials included: lavender plants, lavender seeds, soil, fabric paint, brushes, fabric bags, ribbon, and plant markers
Program objectives: increase socialization; improve fine motor skills; provide sensory stimulation
Recommended for: individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, ADHD or ASD, and intellectual disabilities
Materials Fee: $10/person

Join us for a fun and sensory rich program planting an herb container garden that’s beautiful and functional in the kitchen. Learn about each useful plant, its history, and techniques for planting and growing an indoor or outdoor herb garden.
Materials included: 3-5 herbs, planters, soil, plant markers, and seeds
Program objectives: stimulate motor skills, small muscle development, cognitive skills, and the sense of touch; initiate reminiscence and socialization
Recommended for: individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and emotional or psychological disabilities
Materials Fee: $15/person

What do you get when you mix fresh flowers and a hammer? A masterpiece! Participants will make a creative project using plant material to make colorful botanical designs. You will take home a set of greeting cards and a fabric picture surrounded by a mat suitable for framing. Images may be enhanced with pen. Participants may bring a selection of flowers or leaves to use but all materials will be provided. Socialize, laugh, exercise your hands and arms, and see beautiful dyes from nature.
Materials included: plant material, greeting cards, fabric, mats, pens, and pounding tools
Program objectives: strengthen or refine fine motor skills; increase socialization
Recommended for: individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias, physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder
Materials Fee: $10/person 

You don’t have to live in the South to grow peanuts! Join us as we learn about the legume full of protein with over 300 uses, make homemade peanut butter, and then plant peanuts to bring home! Watch your peanut plants grow all summer long.
Materials included: raw and roasted peanuts, soil, small containers, glass jars with lids, peanut plants, and plant markers
Program objectives: improve fine and gross motor skills; increase socialization; stimulate senses; strengthen feelings of purpose and meaning
Recommended for: individuals with visual or hearing impairments, learning disabilities, mobility disabilities, mental health disabilities, and cognitive disabilities.
Materials Fee: $10/person 

Lavender has been loved for thousands of years, used for perfume, oil, culinary, and medical purposes. Be inspired by the natural world while creating a beautiful lavender eye pillow for yourself or as a special gift. Lavender has a way of awakening our senses while we learn about its origins, the different kinds of lavender, and explore the texture, colors, and fragrances of plants and flowers. In addition to a lovely lavender pillow, you’ll also bring home seeds to plant indoors and watch grow.
Materials included: dried lavender, lavender seeds, soil, small pot, fabric, sewing materials
Program objectives: increase socialization; improve communication skills and fine motor skills; encourage reminiscence and positive self-worth; awaken senses and share feelings
Recommended for: Individuals with memory loss
Materials Fee: $10/person

The Court: A Garden Within Reach
If you’re looking for less structured time in the gardens, visitors and groups are welcome to explore The Court: A Garden Within Reach. The Court is a universally accessible space for peace, beauty, and learning, featuring signature Tower Hill plantings, innovative moveable planters, garden beds at various heights, plantings that invoke all five senses, and other elements that represent solutions for mobility-challenged gardeners. View more information here.