Therapeutic horticulture, as an umbrella term, describes benefit derived from passive or active participation in a greenspace or garden setting, either by an individual, or within a group setting.
It can be conceptualised through a number of useful lenses including landscape design, passive and active participation within greenspaces, plant choice, biophilia, horticultural therapy and social or community gardening.
It’s through this rich tapestry of disciplines and perspectives that a full understanding of the therapeutic qualities of horticulture can be appreciated.
Our work takes a sociological approach by considering not just the individual benefits of therapeutic horticulture, but also the role TH has in fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion at a social or community level. It does this with a view to better understanding the potential impact TH can have on the social status of its participants, their wellbeing and the ways they meaningfully engage in within it and why it is important.
We draw on a number of more specific theories in our work including recognition theory, social geography, sociocultural theory, childhood studies and disability studies.
Each contribute to a deeper understanding and application of the ways we do therapeutic horticulture, why we do it, how we engage specific groups in particular contexts, and for what benefit.
Whether it is developing new programs, conducting research, consulting on new initiatives or developing professional development workshops and training, there’s a few common themes and uncompromising approaches within our work:
The aim of our work is not to develop or promote programs that are just especially designed for particular people in particular contexts, but they also have a broader mission of ensuring those participants inclusivity in broader social contexts.
Driven by theory and evidence.
All of our work is driven by evidence derived through sound, ethical and methodological research and developed through strong conceptual and theoretical foundations and reason.
The litmus test for determining the projects we take on is in asking whether the work will contribute social good.
In disability there is a saying “Nothing about us, without us”. We think it true of any work we do. If you’re going to do research, design a program or present evidence, it should be done WITH the people you’re aiming to benefit.
Dr Kate Neale (PhD)
Kate is a childhood studies and disability studies researcher with an avid love of gardening. Her expertise and interests have forged a deep passion for making gardening and gardening knowledge accessible for all. She specialises in ethical methodologies of involving kids, people with disability or vulnerable communities meaningfully in gardening to foster esteem, wellbeing and belong. Kate believes the best way to grow therapeutic horticulture as a discipline is through collaboration with industry professionals, academics and practitioners in the field. She has written a number of therapeutic gardening programs, runs workshops on therapeutic gardening, and researches in the field.
In 2019, Kate was appointed Vice President on the executive council for Therapeutic Horticulture Australia.
She’s happiest in gumboots.
2018 Recipient of the Australian Institute of Horticulture Award of Merit for contributions to Therapeutic Horticulture.
Dr Kate Neale was nominated by Patrick Regnault MAIH RH for her contribution to “Inclusive therapeutic horticulture programs”.
Dr Kate Neale PhD is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University. She is an avid gardener who has combined her passion for gardening along with her expertise in Childhood Studies, research methodologies and ethics. This has involved developing therapeutic gardening programs for people with intellectual disability, children, those living in aged care accommodation and social housing. She uses a person-centred, wellbeing, evidence based best practice approach.