These workers help their clients “get out into the garden” and harness the physical and emotional benefits of working with nature. The role is relatively new in Australia, although widespread overseas, and can help people keep gardening when their physical ability may limit them.
Aged care service provider ECH chief executive David Panter says it so far has employed one therapeutic horticulturalist to work with its clients but plans to hire more to meet demand.
“We have a lot of people who come to our traditional exercise classes . . . to build up their stamina and fitness to carry out gardening,” Panter says. “But why not do that exercise in a gardening environment?
“A horticultural therapy position is about utilising all these aspects of what we call gardening on a therapeutic basis, such as how to construct a garden to appeal to all the senses.”
A horticulture or landscaping qualification, such as a Certificate III or Diploma of Horticulture, is the minimum requirement, with further study in horticulture therapy preferred.