Horticultural Therapy at Ramat Hanadiv
Many studies have demonstrated the link between a green environment, nature or flowering gardens and feelings of calmness and serenity, enjoyment and vitality. Lovers of gardening attest to the advantages of gardening and the benefits they derive from it, as an activity that is calming and enjoyable, arouses the senses, works the muscles and allows artistic expression that bears fruit, literally and figuratively. Gardening is universal: it crosses borders, cultures and sectors.
At Ramat Hanadiv Gardens, which are designed for the enjoyment of the entire population, a horticultural therapy program has been working since 2000 to expose people with special needs to gardening, and no less importantly – connect them with the community. The underlying principle of this program follows the approach that attaches great importance to integrating people with special needs, such as intellectual and developmental disabilities or mental health issues, and at-risk youth, who are generally ostracized from society, in a normative setting that enables contact with the garden’s employees and exposure to visitors and tourists.
A number of programs are run at Ramat Hanadiv within the framework of horticultural therapy:
1. Circle of growth
This is a group that meets regularly throughout the year. The group, comprising adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, meets up weekly for three hours of horticultural therapy. The activity takes place in the memorial gardens and the therapeutic garden – an enabling garden, located in a designated site within the operations area of Ramat Hanadiv. In the enabling garden the group has its own garden, and each participant has their own gardening bed. This garden combines materials from the rich natural environment of Ramat Hanadiv with original ideas to create a charming corner that is pleasant to visit. The members of the group work, according to their abilities, in a range of gardening jobs: weeding, raking leaves, pruning, turning the soil, transferring seedlings to pots, sowing, planting, preparing cuttings, transferring seedlings, watering and so on. In the enabling garden the participants experience first-hand the process of growing a plant, from the sowing stage to the withering stage, and the change of seasons. They learn to look after the plants and enjoy their fruits. At the end of the day, a wrap-up discussion is held, in which each participant is given the opportunity to share their experiences. From time to time, to break the routine, the group has an activity outside of the garden: a walking tour in Ramat Hanadiv’s nature park, or a picnic in nature and preparation of herbal tea at the nearby spring.
In these activities, the group is joined by volunteers and interns, some of them horticultural therapy students, and others with an affinity for gardening who are interested in becoming familiar with this field and experiencing it personally.
2. Giving to the Garden
The project, “Giving to the Garden” provides an opportunity for diverse sectors of the population with special needs to give and to benefit, via gardening and an interpersonal interaction with other volunteers and the horticultural gardening staff. The program operates on a fixed day of the week. Its main aim is working in the garden in a supportive environment, and it is suitable for a wide range of ages. The work conditions are adapted to a range of needs: raised garden beds that enable working in comfort without bending over, working next to a table, and more.
3. One-off group visits
With a view to offering more people direct, active, healing and nurturing contact with the garden and with the natural and human environment, different groups are hosted in the therapeutic garden from time to time for practical workshops, during which the visitors are exposed to the therapeutic, enabling, accepting and rewarding aspects of gardening. Similarly, professional study tours, workshops and training courses take place in partnership with different organizations, for horticultural therapists and professionals.
Contact us by telephone: 04-6298109 or email
Visits to the enabling garden are by prior arrangement only.