Horticultural Therapy Garden At Headley Court In Bloom For First Time

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Horticultural Therapy can be defined as ‘the use of plants by a trained professional as a medium through which certain clinically defined goals can be met.’

In 2015, 451 patients received 1,499 sessions of Horticultural Therapy. All must be referred by their Occupational Therapist (OT) and each session has reasons for referral, goals and outcomes which must be recorded and fed back to referring OTs.

There are three patient groups at Headley Court – Neuro (brain injuries), Complex Trauma (amputees) and Force Generation (joints and spines) and all refer patients to Horticultural Therapy.

Goals might be to improve standing tolerance or fine motor skills, or engage in a group activity to improve social interaction (the weekly Farm Shop helps with this). Horticultural activity is selected to relate to each individual’s reasons for referral.

Patients who come to Horticultural Therapy report decreased anxiety levels, enjoyment at being outdoors learning new skills which they can take home with them, and being diverted from their injuries.

Home Thoughts From Abroad, a garden to commemorate the centenary of WW1 is blooming for the first time at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey.

The charity HighGround which Anna Baker Cresswell started in 2013, provides the Horticultural Therapy service for DMRC’s patients as part of their rehabilitation from injury. Carol Sales, HighGround’s first Horticultural Therapist designed the garden to reflect what todays’ servicemen and women who are deployed abroad, think of when they think of their gardens back home.

The main structural elements of the garden are the shed, picket fence and winding path and the planting has a cottage garden feel with bluebells, roses and many other scented English favourites.

Major Pete Le Feuvre, a physiotherapist working at Headley Court, has a passion for gardening and had recognised the benefits of structured horticultural activity in a safe, peaceful environment started a gardening project for his patients at Headley Court. When he was posted to Germany, Anna was asked to start a full time Horticultural Therapy service. In September 2014 HighGround appointed Carol Sales as the first Horticultural Therapist.


Pictured: Anna Baker-Cresswell, Major Pete LeFeuvre and Carol Sales in the Home Thoughts Garden.

The pilot scheme has been generously funded by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Westminster Foundation, Clive and Sylvia Richards Charity, CHK Charity, the Leathersellers Company and the Robertson Ness Trust.

Home Thoughts From Abroad would not have been possible without Sutton & East Surrey Water who have given precious time and resources ever since the first turf was turned in April 2015 – they have been magnificent!

The garden would not have been completed without Hortus Loci and RHS Wisley. Carol and her patients are eagerly anticipating the addition of Home Thoughts to the therapeutic environment which HighGround and their partners and friends have been able to create in the gardens at Headley Court.

Group Captain Teresa Griffiths, Commanding Officer at Headley Court said: “I am truly inspired to see the remarkable progress which has been made on the Home Thoughts garden and to experience its first Springtime in bloom. It provides a real testament to all the hard work put in by the Horticultural Therapy Team, along with their dedicated helpers and supporters. It also provides a fine example of the importance of Horticultural Therapy to our patients and the effort and enthusiasm they have given to the project.”

In addition to our precious funders, we could not deliver the Horticultural Therapy service at Headley Court without Scotts Miracle Gro, Buckland Nursery and the Worshipful Company of Glovers. Currently, HighGround receives no funding from MoD and relies entirely on grant-making trusts, foundations and public donation to fund its work.

Andrea Slivkova
Editor, FitNet Magazine
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