Horticultural Therapy Outreach

The UT Gardens, Knoxville, began offering horticultural therapy/therapeutic horticulture programming in 2012. Since that time, we have served more than 7,500 individuals who have disabilities or health issues and live in the East Tennessee area. The Gardens offers a variety or program options to meet the needs of your organization and your clients.

Horticultural ​therapy is defined by the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) as “the participation in horticultural activities facilitated by a registered horticultural therapist to achieve specific goals within an established treatment, rehabilitation, or vocational plan. Horticultural therapy is an active process which occurs in the context of an established treatment plan where the process itself is considered the therapeutic activity rather than the end product.”

Therapeutic horticulture is defined by AHTA as “the participation in horticultural activities facilitated by a registered horticultural therapist or other professionals with training in the use of horticulture as a therapeutic modality to support program goals.”

Services Offered

  • Horticultural Therapy/Therapeutic Horticulture sessions at your facility.
  • Horticultural Therapy/Therapeutic Horticulture sessions at the UT Gardens, Knoxville.
  • Consultation services and therapeutic garden design. Staff training and program development.
  • Professional education and continuing education through Horticultural Therapy symposia and University of Tennessee/UT Gardens Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program.
  • Sow to Grow: a horticultural therapy and vocational program for teens living with a disability.

My students gain much more from the therapeutic horticulture program than simply getting experience with plants. My students have been given the opportunity to choose what plants they wanted to plant. And as a follow up they have been able to take care of their plants and watch with excitement as their seeds and seedlings grow. It has had a very calming effect on many of my students. It’s a beautiful thing to see when a child who is normally intense seems to relax and enjoy himself.

P. Jaye Clark, Special Education Teacher, Austin-East Magnet High School

Support this Program

Our programming relies on grants, donations, and class fees to continue the life-changing programs we offer the community. Our programs are directed by a registered horticultural therapist (HTR). We have the ability to create custom programs to meet the goals and objectives of your client population. We also offer a variety of services from one-hour therapeutic programs to consulting and therapeutic garden design. We are able to offer programs at the UT Gardens, Knoxville, or at your facility.​​

Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program

Over the past four years the UT Gardens has been one of the best internship sites for the FUTURE Program. Working in a professional garden and greenhouse has been a new experience for students, which makes the Gardens an ideal opportunity for job exploration.

Tom Beeson, FUTURE Program


Organizations and populations that we have worked with over the years.

Assisted living and Alzheimer’s and other related dementias

  • Alzheimer’s Tennessee Howard Circle of Friends
  • Avenir
  • Deane Hill Assisted Living
  • Deane Hill Memory Care
  • Manorhouse Assisted Living
  • Morning Pointe of Clinton
  • Morning Pointe of Powell
  • Morning Pointe of Knoxville
  • Northshore Heights Senior Living
  • NHC Place, Farragut – Assisted Living
  • NHC Place, Farragut – Memory Care
  • Oakwood Senior Living
  • Pinnacle Assisted Living


  • Breakthrough Corporation

Independent Living

  • Sherrill Hills Retirement Resort
  • The Villages of Farragut

Intellectual Disabilities and Vocational Training

  • Austin-East Magnet High School CDC Classroom
  • Heritage High School CDC Classroom
  • Tennessee School for the Deaf
  • University of Tennessee’s FUTURE Program

Behavioral Health

  • Cherokee Health​
  • Peninsula Hospital


  • Tennessee AgrAbility Project
  • Veterans Experience Growth through Garden Interactive Experiences (VEGGIE)

The gardening program has given the residents a sense of self-worth again. Many times, especially with residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, it is hard to find any program that will give them joy. In my experience, gardening can trigger old, precious memories of their childhood and family. Being able to have programs that give residents visible joy and a sense of fulfillment again is a HUGE success in my book.

Katelyn Bray, Northshore Senior Living