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news News Thursday, August 2, 2018 Thursday, August 2, 2018 12:46 PM - Thursday, August 2, 2018 12:46 PM

Creativity and therapy through gardening

Creativity and therapy through gardening

boy working on a plantThis summer, the Portland Shriners Hospital's recreational therapy team partnered with Portland Nursery to host a week-long gardening camp. Throughout the year, the recreational therapy team offers a wide range of activities to current patients to improve physical, emotional, and mental health and well-being – and to have fun in the process! Patients attended two-hour class sessions with a different gardening project each day of the week, including activities like painting flower pots, planting succulents and building “fairy gardens.”

“Fairy gardens are a way for kids to express creativity through gardening,” explained Jill Dunsmuir, co-owner of Portland Nursery, who led the camp. To build a fairy garden, participants add whimsical items to their potted plant so it resembles a miniature living area that they imagine fairies could live in. “Some parents add a toy fairy to the garden and move it around after they get home,” Jill added. “It makes it more exciting!”

In addition to creating items that they can take home with them, patients participate in experiences that allow them to learn more about gardening, including activities with bugs! One day, patients ventured outside with Jill to release ladybugs into the garden and learn about how they protect plants from other bugs. Another day, attendees studied worms as they wriggled around through the soil.

Along with patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland, parents and siblings are also invited to attend recreational therapy programs. Kate, one mother who attended the camp, explained the numerous benefits of recreational therapy for not only her daughter, who is a patient, but for her whole family. “My daughter is a patient at Shriners, but I also bring my son along to programs like this. He gets to meet the siblings of other kids to not only make friends, but to make friends with someone who understands having a sibling who requires specialized care.” The flexibility and accessibility of the programs are also elements of recreational therapy that Kate appreciates.

Portland Nursery has hosted this annual gardening camp every summer for over 12 years, and we are so grateful for their contribution!