Green Acres Horticultural Therapy Program

VA Medical Center

Martinsburg, West Virginia

(2011 -2012)


“Working in the Greenhouse provided me a sense of peace and a safe place to be”

– Female Veteran

“Repotting plants helped me forget the pain in my legs”

– Male Veteran suffering from bone cancer

“working together in the vegetable garden for some was a reminder of gardens back home”

“I really got to like growing vegetables and trying new food to eat that was mine”

– Nathan, Veteran of Iraq

Timber Ridge

2014 – 2016

Helen developed and implemented a Therapeutic Horticulture Program in collaboration with and under the direction of the Director of Educational Services at Timber Ridge. Goals of the program are to teach basic life skills; provide the clients with a sense of accomplishment; a sense of joy; a sense of belonging to a group working together towards a common goal; seeing things through and a sense of purpose.

Helen’s students share

“While working in the garden I forgot about what’s happening around me and focus on what’s going on in my garden bed.”  ~ AM

“Working in the garden is a peaceful activity”  ~ RB “Working in the garden taught me how to feed my family when rough times come. It helped me to just get away for a minute.”  ~ TD

“With hard work, you can do anything!”  ~ KT

“Working in the garden helped me get out my stress. It made me want to plan another garden next year.”  ~ FH

“When I was in the garden I felt relaxed. It gave me something to focus on other than school and treatment.”   ~ CH

Spring Arbor of Winchester,  Residential Assisted Living with Memory Care, Winchester Va.

April- October 2016

HT sessions at “The Cottage”- Alzheimer’s and Dementia Unit   “the residents loved their first HT session!”  (potting up pansies- there is a photo of my set up with green potting tubs).   “residents really brighten up when its time for Hort Therapy”

Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury in Winchester Retirement Community

1 May 2017- Present (renewed until Dec. 2018)

Providing Horticultural Therapy sessions to residents in Assisted Living and Memory Care on a weekly  basis. Following comments were from Staff who participate and support me during the HT sessions:

I think the program is great. Not only does it get residents active in actually getting to do hands-on activities, but also gets them to experience something many of them most likely did when they were younger, such as planting and pruning.

I love how many varying activities there are and all of my residents thoroughly love them. The hand warmers we made just recently, I actually brought out a residents and heated it up for her, she sure loved it!

I cannot wait to have more of these classes!

I think it has gone really well. It works well with the residents that can’t see because they can touch and smell.  The activities aren’t overly hard so it is fun for them and keeps their interest while providing them a little challenge to complete the tasks.

I think the HT program is a great addition. I watch our  residents reactions and involvement with Helen closely, and her activities provide interaction on so many the fact that residents like and enjoy whatever activity she brings to them. Residents that tend to be observers most of the time have actually gotten involved in the programs. I feel that this year was a good start and gives us a lot to build on for next year.

“I am very thankful for Helen and her therapy.  The community that I work for is lucky to have her.  Our residents enjoy the different weekly classes and look forward to these well thought out experiences.  Horticultural therapy is a wonderful addition to any activity program.”

Donielle Weatherholtz-Palmer
Director of Resident Services