Horticultural Therapy

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.’

Anna Baker Cresswell introduced Horticultural Therapy to the military in the UK in 2007 when she started her first charity, Gardening Leave.

In 2014, HighGround began a three-year pilot to explore the benefits of Horticultural Therapy as an intervention for injured service personnel at HeadleyCourt. Carol Sales, our first Horticultural Therapist delivered 4,072 sessions of Horticultural Therapy to 1,136 patients.

Since September 2018, Andy Wright, our Therapeutic Gardens Manager, and Jane Taylor, Horticultural Therapist, have continued this legacy by providing the Horticultural Therapy service for the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire as part of their rehabilitation programme for injured soldiers, sailors and airmen.

All patients who come to Horticultural Therapy are referred by their Occupational Therapist as part of an individual rehabilitation programme. All the patients at DMRC are still serving their Country.

Horticultural Therapy has now been integrated into the range of rehab options available for clinicians to treat injured serving personnel and we are hugely grateful to all our donors for their support. We continue to be grateful to Greenwich Hospital for their generous funding, and acknowledge the Chancellor’s LIBOR fund for their generous contribution to our 2019/2020 costs. Please click here to read about the donation from the Headley Court Charity.

To find out how much it costs to run one session of Horticultural Therapy please see the tinted box below.

It costs HighGround £92 to deliver one session of Horticultural Therapy.

Patients are referred by their Occupational Therapist (OT) as many times during their admission that the OT feels that an intervention of HT can contribute to their rehab programme.

Reasons for referral for Complex Trauma (amputee) patients include standing tolerance and balance, and diversion from pain. For Neuro Patients, improving fine motor skills and cognitive processing are the most common reason for referral and for Force Generation (joints and spines), patients planning and sequencing, encouraging social interaction and improving self-confidence and self-esteem feature in most referrals.

The HT service operates for 50 weeks of the year and follows the gardening year in all weathers. Patients are able to keep coming back – some over several years – until they are fully rehabilitated.


“Peace and relaxation. The ability to do something simple whilst producing tangible results and a chance to reflect on what is important to me. Identify what is going to maintain a positive mood. Happier. More open minded.”

Horticultural Therapy Patient at Headley Court

“I could use my injured hand without even knowing it. It is a calming environment where not only do you feel relaxed but good about yourself.”

Horticultural Therapy Patient at Headley Court

“I’ve learnt something new at every session and I will take this new found knowledge with me, be it in the future as a new career after completion of my time in the Military.”

Horticultural Therapy Patient at Headley Court

“I have found Horticultural Therapy physically, emotionally and spiritually helpful. I now feel content.”

Horticultural Therapy Patient at Headley Court

“Horticultural Therapy has given me the confidence in completing activities whilst standing. I enjoyed the peaceful environment.”

Horticultural Therapy Patient at Headley Court