Kettle Moraine Garden Club provides patients with unseen gifts

A sense of calm. Increased mindfulness. Reduced stress.

These are three of the many gifts patients who participate in horticultural therapy at Rogers Behavioral Health will never see, but instead will be felt, when they take home a Therapeutic Gardening Toolkit provided by a grant from the Kettle Moraine Garden Club.

“Since horticultural therapy was introduced to Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, we have seen many benefits that therapeutic gardening has on our patients’ mental health,” said Jonathan Irish, horticultural therapy coordinator. “The toolkits are one way we can help people continue to receive the benefits of therapeutic gardening at home.”

Through horticultural therapy, patients learn valuable lessons from nature to create a more profound understanding of life. For example, by experiencing the benefits of growing tomato and basil together, patients learn how each plant takes only what it needs from the soil, leaving ample nutrients for both of them to flourish. Lessons like this encourage thought and growth, fostering a greater level of comprehension about themselves and their relationships.

The hope is that patients will be inspired to continue their growth process by gardening at home, and the Therapeutic Gardening Toolkits will help ensure it does. Inside the toolkits are items that can be used to start their own garden without delay or additional costs involved: milkweed seeds (for attracting butterflies), coir pot and root pouch for transplanting seedlings, a planter and several soil pellets for indoor use, a journal to record thoughts and feelings, and a special notecard that says:

A gift to you from the Kettle Moraine Garden Club
Now that you’ve experienced the many benefits of gardening at Rogers, it is our pleasure to give you this Therapeutic Gardening Toolkit. In it, you’ll find items you’ll need to plant your own garden at home. But it’s what you can’t see that’s the true gift: a sense of calm, increased mindfulness, reduced stress, and so much more. We hope that this gardening toolkit will serve as a daily reminder that it is with proper love and nurturing that we grow strong and vibrant.

“We sincerely hope the toolkits will encourage people to continue the horticultural experience at home,” said Julie Meier, member of the Kettle Moraine Garden Club. “Embracing nature as a long-term approach to positive mental health and well-being is at the core of our existence, and we are proud to be a part of this project.”

The toolkits will be distributed individually based on a patient’s demonstrated interest and participation in the horticultural therapy program during treatment, as well as their desire to continue gardening after they leave Rogers.

Whether the toolkits serve as symbols for healthy eating and positive body image or as vehicles to unwind and relieve anxiety, the mental health benefits contained inside them is sure to make an impact. Thank you to the Kettle Moraine Garden Club for supporting our mission!