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protective spaces are available. Whether the space is under a low-hanging tree,
behind a bush, between rows of plantings, or within a carefully constructed
sunﬂower house, children will appreciate the joining of solitude with the com-
fort of natural elements.
For some children, the peaceful quiet a garden offers and the interaction
with the garden ecosystem may be particularly impactful, even therapeutic.
Horticulture therapy is used in a variety of situations, from children’s hospitals
to treating adults with chronic health and mental health issues. While teach-
ers are not skilled therapists, they can take advantage of the restorative value
that gardening offers. Nurturing plants is an empowering process. One of the
key features in horticulture therapy is this element of control (Millet 2009).
As children interact with the plants, they provide the elements that the plants
need to grow. When the child plants a seed, he begins the life cycle of a plant.
As he nurtures the plant, it responds and grows. To a child who may have little
control in his life, this is a powerful experience.
The sensory elements of the garden are also restorative. Many hospitals are
now installing healing gardens, and doctors note that patients who can see the
gardens heal faster and with fewer drugs than patients who cannot. Children
who have stressful lives or who suffer from trauma may find peace in the gar-
den that is not available in other areas of their lives. Teachers can foster this
sense of serenity by creating spaces to be alone, where a child can think or
read or draw.
Dirt Is Good
As early childhood educators, we clean things. We wash hands, sanitize sur-
faces, disinfect dishes, and do all we can to keep our children away from those
nasty germs. This makes perfect sense, especially when we have large groups
of children who are together for long stretches of the day. Any one of these
children may have a contagious disease. At the same time, bacteria are getting
Why Garden? • 7