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The Kevin Heinze Garden Centre Inc. provides horticultural therapy programs for children and adults with disability or disadvantage.




Children and Nature

Children today are exposed to adult themes at an early age. As children grow, they can also be exposed to cyber bullying, alcohol and drugs, vandalism, injury from accidents, mental illness, depression and suicide. And yet many parents fear exposing their children to nature, even if it is in their own back yard. It seems paradoxical that in Australia, a relatively sparsely populated country with a wealth of nature, parents are often not encouraging their children to explore and interact with the environment.

Echoing much of the basis of Richard Louv’s book “The Last Child in the Woods” where he spoke of the negative impact on children who were not accessing natural environments, my research indicates that Australian parents are “cocooning” a generation of children.

One community worker recently based her city gardening program on reconnecting children with playing in “wild spaces”. This amounted to anywhere outside that was natural and open and involved interaction between children and nature; in this case a vegetable garden. She had started the program when she noticed that the children with behavioural issues were largely restricted in their play activities because parents were reluctant to allow their children to be adventurous. This and many other gardening based programs for children here and overseas, have identified that when children were engaged in gardening, or even in a “green” environment, many of their negative behaviours disappeared. Some researchers even found conditions such as ADHD moderated in a garden environment.

In many ways modern children have been denied the opportunity to express their natural instinct of running, hiding, digging and getting dirty as previous generations have done. It is understandable that there is a common reluctance among adults to allow children to do things that might put them at risk. Now nature in all of its many forms, including the garden, is seen as a risk. Over the past few years there has been a strong trend for adults to restrict children from contact with a range of natural environments including parks, gardens and even the home garden.

People no longer seek out opportunities to interact with nature as they have in the past but many older people speak of the past when as children they would explore their neighbourhoods and any other environment they encountered. This is now happening less frequently as adults feel the need to protect children against a perceived threat. There has also been a change of attitude towards “getting your hands dirty”.

Consumerism and technology now dominate our society with children early consumers and parent’s eager suppliers. This may not be a bad thing in itself, but surely children would benefit from a more balanced lifestyle where they can explore nature and interact in a garden that is usually no more than a doorway away.

It would make sense for adults to encourage children to spend time in a garden, to work together and enjoy their own green space. Children would be more engaged in the natural world and be exposed to the positive affect of nature. By doing this the incidents of negative behaviours may reduce and it might be an opportunity to have children more content and less stressed; able to grow into well balanced adults. They might even encourage the next generation to be fully engaged in gardening as a celebration of life.

MHSc, Grad.Dip.Disability, Dip. Teach, Dip.Hort. Dip. Man, Cert Landscape. (PhD student)

Many publications have been written about the value of participating in horticulture and gardening to improve well being. The following publications may be of interest if you would like to study such concepts further. Some of the publications have Internet links. Other publications or information about them, may need to be sourced using Web based Search Engines such as



Plants for

Well Being

Lifestyles &

Horticulture &

& Medical


Plants for Well Being

  1. ABC National Radio.2005. Saturday Extra with Geraldine Doogue – Healing Gardens. Transcript of interview, recorded Saturday 15th October 2005. Retrieved  January 2008

  2. Aldous D. 1998. Horticulture Therapy in Australia- Moving Towards the New Millennium. Towards a New Millennium in People-Plant Relationships.    Eds Burchett M., Tarran J., & Wood R. International People-Plant Symposium, Sydney 19-22 July 1998.

  3. Aldous D. E. 1982. How Horticulture Benefits the Disabled. Conference of Gardeners, March 26, 1982. Health Commission of Victoria. Richmond.

  4. Aldous, D. 1994, Therapy from the garden: how it began, Australian Horticulture, October.p.76.

  5. Aldous. D. 1997. Horticulture Plant Selection for Special Need. IFPA Bulletin, April.

  6. Aldridge I., & Sempik J., 2002, Social and Therapeutic Horticulture: evidence and messages from research. Centre for Child and Family Research, Evidence, Issue 6, p.6. Loughborough University, Leicestershire.

  7. American Cancer Society, 2002. Healing Gardens Nurture the Spirit While Patients Get Treatment Cancer Survivor  December 2007.

  8. American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), 2007.Healing through community gardening: Work Therapy. Retrieved November 2007

  9. Burchett M., & Wood R. 1994. People-Plant Relationships, Recent Research. Presentation at Horticulture Therapy Association of Victoria Conference.

  10. City Farmer,1988.Gardening with disabled individuals., Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture. Retrieved. April 2009. :

  11. Cooper-Marcus C., 1994. Synopsis presentation at The Healing Dimensions of Plant-People Relations. Reporter Wood R., Australian Horticulture July  p.24.

  12. Cooper-Marcus, C. 2005. Healing Gardens in Hospitals. Interdisciplinary Design and Research e-Publication, Washington State University.   Retrieved October 2007.

  13. Davis, S. 1998. Development of the Profession of Horticulture Therapy. Horticulture as Therapy. Simson, S., P., & Straus, M., C., Eds.   Chapter 1,.Hawthorn Press. Binghamton, NY.

  14. Epstein M., 2002. JCAHO Commends Therapeutic Gardens. Therapeutic Garden Design. (p.5) Vol.3. Num.1 Spring 2002. American Society of Landscape Architects.

  15. Gerlack-Spriggs N., & Wilson A., 2002. The Therapeutic Garden: A Collaboration of Professionals. Therapeutic Garden Design. (p.4) Vol.3 Num.1. Spring 2002. American Society of Landscape Architects.

  16. Hartig T., & Cooper-Marcus C., 2006. Essay: Healing gardens- places for nature in health care. The Lancet, vol. 368. Pp.36-37.

  17. Kaplan R. & Kaplan S. 1989. The Experience of Nature. A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge University Press, New York.

  18. Kuo F. E., and Sullivan W. C., 2001. Environment and Crime in the Inner City. Does Vegetation Reduce Crime? Environment and Behaviour, Vol. 33 No. 3, May 2001. (pp. 343-367.) Sage Publications.

  19. Leith. T, 2006, Ability Garden: Horticulture therapy means eliminating barriers and connecting to the natural world at the New Hanover County Arboretum. Perspectives On Line, The Magazine of the College of Agriculture and Life Science. North Carolina State University,  Retrieved November 2006.  :

  20. Lewis C. A., 1996. Green Nature Human Nature. The Meaning of Plants in Our Lives. University of Illinois Press. Chicago.

  21. Lewis C.A. 1990. Gardening as a healing process. The Meaning of Gardens: Idea, Place and Action Eds; Francis, M. & Hester Jr, R.T. pp. 244-251. The MIT Press London.

  22. Lohr, V.I., Pearson-Mims, C.H. and Goodwin G.K.. 1996. Interior plants may improve worker productivity and reduce stress in a windowless environment.  Journal of Environmental Horticulture 14(2):97-100

  23. Maller, C. Townsend, M. Prior, A. Brown, P.& St Leger, L. 2005. Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International, Vol 21 No.1 pp. 45-46 Oxford University Press.

  24. Mintz T.G. 2005. Therapeutic Gardens- Horticulture and Healing. For The Record. Vol.5 No. 5 P.19.

  25. Relf P. D. 2006, Gardens in health care: An introduction to the design and application of healing gardens, therapeutic gardens and horticulture therapy gardens. 2nd Community of Practice Workshop, Stavanger, Norway, 21-24 June 2006.

  26. Relf, P. D., 2006 Theoretical Models for Research and Program Development in Agriculture and Health Care. In: Farming for Health (eds Hassink, J and van Dijk, J.) pp. 1-20

  27. Relf, P.D., & Dorn S. 1995, Horticulture: Meeting the Needs of Special Populations, Hortechnology, 5.94-126. Retrieved: October 2007.

  28. Santa Barbara, J. 2004, Medicine and Peace: The Butterfly Peace Garden. Croatian Medical Journal.45(2): 232-233.

  29. Sempik J., & Aldridge J. 2008. Social and Therapeutic Horticulture in the UK: the Growing Together Study. Loughborough University. Retrieved:  March 2008.

  30. Sempik J., Aldridge J., & Becker S., 2002, social and Therapeutic Horticulture: evidence and messages from the research. Thrive: in association with the Centre for Child and Family Research, Reading. Retrieved:  April 2008.

  31. Sempik J., Aldridge J., & Becker S., 2003, Treating the Maniacs: from Benjamin  Rush to the present day. Draft paper presented at ‘Horticultural Geographies’ conference, Nottingham University, UK, September 17th and 18th 2003.

  32. Sempik J., Aldridge J., & Becker S., 2005, Health, Well-being and Social Inclusion, Therapeutic Horticulture in the UK. Loughborough University in association with Thrive, The Policy Press, Bristol.

  33. Sempik, J. 2007. Researching Social and Therapeutic Horticulture for People with Mental Ill Health: a study of methodology. Reading: Thrive and Loughborough: Centre for Child and Family Research.

  34. Sherman S.A, Varni J. W, Ulrich R.S.& Malcarne V.L.2005. Post-occupancy evaluation of healing gardens in a paediatric cancer centre. Landscape and Urban Planning.   73. pp 167-183.

  35. Shoemaker, C.A.,  Messer Diehl, E.R., Carman, J., Carman, N.,  Stoneham, J.,  Lohr, V.I., Eds., 2000,  Interaction by Design: Bringing People and Plants Together for Health and Well-being: An International Symposium. P.152-153.

  36. Simson S. & Straus M.C., 2003, Horticulture as a Therapy: Principals and Practice. Haworth Press.

  37. Stigsdotter U. A., & Grahn P., 2002. What Makes a Garden a Healing Garden? Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. Vol.13. pp.60-69

  38. Thrive, 2009. What is Social and Recreational Horticulture? Retrieved: August, 2009.

  39. Townsend, M. 2006. Feel Blue? Touch Green? Participation in forest/woodland management as a treatment for depression. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 5  111-120

  40. Townsend, M., & Ebden, M., 2006, Feel Blue Touch Green Report. Deakin University. p9

  41. University of Minnesota .2009.Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series: Healing Gardens,. Retrieved: May2009.

  42. Aldous D., 2000. Perspectives on horticultural therapy in Australia, HortTechnology,10 (1)pp.18-23

  43. American Horticultural Therapy Association,2007, Definitions and Positions. Retrieved .April 2009.

  44. Burchett, M., Torpy, F., & Tarran, J., 2008. Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health and Wellbeing. Milestone Report No. 103 to HA and NIPA, January 2008. Retrieved May.2008.

  45. Burns, G. W. 1998. Nature Guided Therapy – Brief Integrative Strategies for Health and Well-being. Burnner/Mazel, Philadelphia.

  46. Gardening Leave 2008. Retrieved:August 2008.

  47. GrowthPoint. 1999, issue 79, Autumn, p. 4 Retrieved: November 2007.

  48. Horticulture Therapy Association of Victoria Inc., 1997, Starting a Horticultural Therapy Program. p.3.

  49. Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) 2007,Howard Ulfelder, MD Healing Garden. Retrieved January 2008.

  50. Pryor, A., Carpenter, C. and Townsend, M. 2005. Outdoor Education and Bush Adventure Therapy: a Socio-ecological approach to health and wellbeing. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education. Vol.9.

  51. Rayner J., 2006. An overview of horticulture therapy in Australia. Transcript of presentation at the Horticultural Therapy Association of Victoria Conference, October 2006.

  52. Relf, P.D. 2005, Unpublished diagram, Defining Horticultural Therapy.  Department of Horticulture, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg Virginia

  53. Samaritan Health Services (SHS), 2007. The Healing Garden. Retrieved December 2007.

  54. San Felipe Humanitarian Alliance. 2007, Sri Lanka, Peace is growing from within: Butterfly Peace Garden. Retrieved November 2007.

  55. Sreejith  A., & Binukumer S., 2008. Influence of Gardening and Green Environment on the Subjective Well-Being of the Elderly: A Study which Focuses on the Therapeutic Aspects of Horticulture. The Garden City Group, Agriculture Development Corporation. Retrieved:July 2009. 

  56. Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, (2010) Aims and Philosophy. Retrieved: Sept. 2010.

  57. Stilgoe, J.R. 2001. Gone Barefoot Recently? American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20, 243-244.

  58. Taylor A. F., Kuo F. E. and Sullivan W.C., 2001. Coping with ADD. The Surprise Connection to Green Play Settings. Environment and Behaviour, Vol. 33 No. 1 January 2001(pp.54-77) Sage Publications.

  59. The Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine, 2008.  Enid A. Haupt Glass Gardens. Retrieved: January 2008,

  60. Vapaa A., G., 2002. Healing Gardens: Creating Places for Restoration, Meditation and Sanctuary. p.75. Unpublished thesis, Virginia Polytechnic and State University.

  61. Yamane, K., Kawashima, M., Fujishige, N., and Yoshida, M., cited in Sempik, J., Aldridge, J., and Becker, S., 2005, Health, well-being and social inclusion, Therapeutic horticulture in the UK, Policy Press, Bristol.

  62. Louv R,  Last Child in the Woods


Lifestyles & Environment

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Horticulture & Gardening

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  2. Kevin Heinze Garden Centre Inc. 1999. A Dream Bears Fruit, an Anecdotal History of the Kevin Heinze Garden Centre,

  3. Kevin Heinze Garden Centre Inc. Retrieved: August 2008,

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  5. Victorian State Schools Nursery. 1988, Growing with Horticulture - Horticultural Activities for Australian Schools, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.

  6. Yarra View Nursery (2010) Retrieved: November 2010.


Disabilities & Medical 

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Research Techniques  

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