Part 1: Choosing a Therapeutic Garden Project With Your
If you get the opportunity to work with an individual or group
for a whole growing season, a rewarding project would be to let participants choose their own special garden craft
project from a small list that you put together specifically for the group you are working with.
Search your library and the internet to find projects that are easy and fun. The best
resources have great photos and step-by-step instructions. Make color copies of the instructions and bring them to
your planning discussion so that participants get a good idea of what is involved and what the end product will
For instance, I had the opportunity to visit a seniors’ residence and suggested that
we grew everlastings so that we could harvest and dry the flowers to use in a craft. I gave them some ideas of
projects: decorating straw hats with dried flowers; making a dried floral arrangement in a vase; or decorating a
straw basket with dried flowers.
The majority of residents liked the idea of decorating a straw hat. They loved that
they had a say in what project they could try. Once we got consensus to do this activity, we started to think about
what kind of plants we would like to grow to decorate our hats with. I brought in some examples of dried flowers
like strawflower, statice, common sage, and lavender so that participants could see the possibilities with their
own eyes. For flowers that I didn’t have readily available, I showed them photos.
We made a list of flowers we wanted to plant, envisioning what the finished straw hat
would look like. During our discussion, I explained to the participants that they will be helping to plant, harvest
and dry the flowers throughout the summer as material to make our summer hats. Participants began to get excited
about upcoming visits to the garden when I painted a picture of what we would be doing ahead of
And since I had lavender with me, we made lavender sachets using
pretty, thin fabric and ribbon. Residents loved the scent of lavender and wanted to make sachets for their friends
as well. The participants appreciated being able to take away a craft with them after our discussion and it is my
hope that every time they catch a scent from their sachet, it will remind them of all of the exciting gardening
experiences yet to come.
Written By: Lea Tran