Books to savor and learn from

There are many wonderful books dealing with the topic of horticulture therapy; everything from esoteric explorations on the people-plant relationship to helpful, hands-on guides for dealing with the needs of specific populations.

We've assembled a few here to get you started. A click on most of these titles or thumbnails will take you directly to AHTA is an associate member of Amazon and earns a tiny percentage of your purchase price.


Janeen R. Adil
1995, Woodbine House


Presents all the information and practical know-how necessary for designing, planting, and maintaining a garden that suits the special needs of young and older gardeners with physical disabilities. Dozens of mail-order sources are provided for the many tools, seeds, plants, and other materials discussed.

Joann Woy
1997, Stackpole Press


Gardening can become difficult and strenuous when an accident, illness or advancing age brings on physical disabilities. The guide offers tips and techniques that return the joy of gardening to those with special needs. Included are recommendations for modifying an existing yard for gardening ease, advice on selecting ergonomic tools and low-maintenance plants, as well as directions for constructing raised bed planters.

James Jiler
2006, New Village Press


This is the first comprehensive guide to in-prison and post-release horticultural training programs. James Jiler combines an engaging personal account of running a highly successful horticultural vocation program at the largest jail complex in the United States with a practical guide to starting and managing prison and re-entry gardening programs.

Gene Rothert, HTR
1994, Taylor Trade Publishing


This is a personal account of horticultural therapy, or gardening with disabilities, by someone who shares his own firsthand experiences. Rothert discusses gardening while one is seated, making raised beds and smooth paths, selecting appropriate plants and tools, and performing maintenance chores. Rothert includes lists of his favorite plants, organizations, enabling gardens, and sources for gardening supplies.

Rachel Kaplan & Stephen Kaplan
1989, Cambridge University Press


A study of the natural environment, people, and the relationship between them. The authors offer a research-based analysis of the vital psychological role that nature plays. They try to understand how people perceive nature and what kinds of natural environments they prefer.

Hank Bruce & Tomi Jill Folk
2004, Petals and Pages


This book overflows with school gardening projects, related activities and ideas. Many subject areas are brought into play in these thirty outlined gardens, from math and science to reading and the arts. This book was written by horticultural therapists with the intention that is be used as a resource in pubic schools, for grades K-12 including special needs students. It is also ideal for independent study, youth groups, home schooling and families. There are detailed projects for both indoor and outdoor gardens ranging from vegetables to butterfly gardens, Native American plants to the rainforest. Hundreds of related activities are listed to make the fullest use of the gardens.

Natasha Etherington
2012, Jessica Kinglsey London


A garden or nature setting presents the perfect opportunity for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and special needs to learn, play and strengthen body and mind. This book empowers teachers and parents with little gardening know-how to get outside and use nature to motivate young learners. Using a mindfulness approach, Natasha Etherington presents a simple gardening program that offers learning experiences beyond those a special needs student can gain within the classroom.

Hank Bruce
2004, Petals and Pages


This is an idea resource for horticultural therapists and activity professionals in senior care facilites, hosptals and rehab centers. There are themed gardening activities for a wide range of functioning levels and hundreds of activites that relate to the plants being grown. Avenues for socialization, opportunites to relive memories and make new discoveries abound as residents, patients, clients and staff share the joy and wonder of gardening.

Hank Bruce
1999, Petals & Pages Press

In this book Hank Bruce introduces the field of horticultural therapy and describes the garden as a powerful place of renewal and connection. The reader is invited to explore the ways that gardening programs can be used as a therapeutic tool for abuse victims, rehabilitation centers, Alzheimer and stroke patients, inmates in prison systems, drug addicts and a multitude of special populations. The value of community gardens in the health of a community is explored. This book even suggests that there is a role for gardening in the workplace as a way to reduce conflict and improve productivity.

Jean M. Larson and Mary Hockenberry Meyer
2006, Food Products Press


Intergenerational gardening programs bring the generations together. This book presents a tested, hands-on, easy-to-use activity plan that benefits the development of relationships between adults over 70 and school-age children. It shows how to limit frustration for both groups, how to plan activities that are functional and non-contrived, and how to assure that the interaction between elders and children is rewarding and pleasant for both. The activities rely on inexpensive, readily available tools and resources available throughout the growing season. This unique sourcebook shows you, step-by-step, how a Sensory Garden can come alive in a structured therapeutic horticulture program.