Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., is developing a therapy garden with the mission to help patients, families, and hospital staff to break outside the traditional walls of medicine and actively participate in the healing influences of nature.
Research shows natural environments are related to reduced patient stays, anxiety, and medication use, and horticultural therapy has been shown to reduce the stress and heart rate of patients.
Garden design and special features
The therapy garden-called the Gardens at PVH-will be constructed in a 264-square-foot by 50-square-foot area on the east side of Poudre Valley Hospital. A committee of PVH employees guided the project's development, ensuring that the considerations of patients and families are at the forefront of all designs and programming.
Garden plans include:
- Infusion garden for stress relief and Zen garden with rakes and stepping stones
- Flower cutting garden, challenge path, and finger labyrinth for restoring function
- Vertical planting wall, raised planters, and interactive water wall
- Healing and aromatic herbs and edible plants grown for the PVH cafeteria
- Container gardening to facilitate therapy transition to home environment
- Arbor and trellis for shaded spaces due to sun sensitivity with medications
- Patio with benches, drinking fountains, wind sculptures, and donor wall.
Benefits of the Gardens
The feeling of wonder when looking at a beautiful flower... the satisfaction of growing a beautiful plant... appreciation for the renewal of spring.
The peaceful, non-threatening environment of a garden has a quieting effect on people. The therapy garden will use the special connection people feel with plants, gardening, and nature as a vehicle to facilitate therapy and rehabilitation.
Horticultural therapy is flexible and can meet the needs of many populations. There are many ways to do an activity (100 ways to plant seeds); plants are the link between the patient and therapist and are used as a format for treatment. Because it is done in a non-threatening environment, it doesn't seem like therapy, and it allows clients to see their abilities, not their disabilities.
The Gardens at PVH will support interactive horticultural therapy programs in which treatment protocols developed by physicians and nurses will use the natural spaces and interaction with the environment to help achieve patient goals. Garden activities such as seeding/propagating, watering, fertilizing, weeding, mulching, pruning, and harvesting will practice and reinforce functional skills.
The Gardens will primarily be used in cardiac and pulmonary rehab, oncology, brain and spinal cord injury, occupational and physical therapy, and chronic disease management. Benefits to patients include increases in cognitive, social, physical, and emotional abilities, fine motor skills, strength, range of motion, activity tolerance, dynamic sitting or standing balance, memory, cognition, and pain management.
The first phase of the Gardens at PVH will be completed in May 2012. The first phase includes garden design and construction.
Donations used to build the Gardens at PVH
Community members, companies and PVH employees funded the first phase with $435,000 in cash and in-kind donations. The Poudre Valley Hospital Foundation spearheaded the fundraising for the first phase and will do so again on the second phase. The second phase includes additional features and specialty gardens.
Poudre Valley Health System Foundation, 970.237.7400.