2019 Conference Keynote Speaker

Horticultural Therapy: Digging in Together
October 4-5, 2019, Pre-tours October 3
DoubleTree Grand Rapids Airport Hotel
Grand Rapids | Michigan

If you are interested in attending the Keynote session only, please contact the AHTA office.


Keynote Speaker: Steven Wells, RN, HT, Professional Horticulturalist

Steven Wells has successfully combined his nursing and horticulture careers to be working as a rehabilitation nurse, a horticultural therapist, and the Gardens and Grounds Program project
officer at Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia. These horticultural roles are unique within the public healthcare sector in Australia and Steven is a leader in this field. Steven is a passionate advocate for therapeutic horticulture and gardens within healthcare settings and the benefits that they provide for patients, their families, and staff.

With the mantra of “dream big, start small”, Steven has successfully developed the horticultural therapy program and sensory gardens at Austin Health’s Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre and expanded beyond this through his project officer role to also implement and oversee the development of numerous gardens throughout Austin Health’s three campuses.

Steven has received a number of awards:

  • Gardening Australia magazine ‘Gardener of the Year’
  • Australian Institute of Horticulture ‘Award of Merit’
  • Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow
  • Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show Silver Medal Show Garden

Steven was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 2015 to travel overseas to research the development, use, and management of therapeutic gardens in healthcare settings. Steven has recently been a guest presenter on the ABC Gardening Australia national television program sharing stories on therapeutic horticulture and gardens. Steven is currently the President of the newly formed Therapeutic Horticulture Australia national association. 

Increasing the Dose of Gardens in the Hospital, Keynote presentation by Steven Wells

We all understand that hospital settings are challenging environments and caring for people who are unwell has its challenges too. Providing therapeutic environments within the hospital that nurture and support people during their treatment and recovery is important. Gardens and connections with nature play a valuable role within the healthcare setting, however, these are often “under-dosed” in hospitals, but we are seeing this change.

This talk will share the experiences of how Steven in his innovative role as Gardens Project Officer is increasing gardens and connections with nature for patients, their families and staff and is positively changing the therapeutic environment across Austin Health’s hospitals.