Horticultural Therapy has been defined as "the use of plants and gardens for human healing and rehabilitation". It is an ancient practice, but a rather new profession. In the early 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, observed and documented the benefits of working with plants for his patients at his Philadelphia clinic. Horticultural Therapy programs are now commonplace at many diff erent facilities in this country and abroad.
An increasingly large body of research attests to the unique values of horticulture as a therapy for people with physical, mental, emotional, and social disabilities. As plants are non-discriminating and non-threatening, anyone can be successful. It doesn't matter how old or intelligent a person is; their race, religion, and IQ don't matter either. Plants will respond to anyone providing care. Studies show that success with plants can lead to success es in other aspects of our lives. This is important for individuals whose disabilities or limitations might hinder their accomplishments in other pursuits.