Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 23.2 - 2013


The Effect of Horticultural Activity on the Cognitive Performance of Healthy Elderly
Haruyuki Kojima and Mitsunobu Kunimi

The cognitive performance of healthy elderly people was examined before and after participating in horticultural activities for three months. Subjects engaged in indoor and outdoor horticultural activities, woodworking activities at a desk, group conversation, and lunch and tea breaks, which lasted a total of three to four hours. Cognitive performance was evaluated using the following tests: 1) numeral retention (digit-span test); 2) copying numbers or signs (coding test); and 3) single-digit arithmetic (arithmetic test). Following these activities, the memory capacity and operability in the digit-span test remained unchanged. However, coding performance slightly increased in the experimental group, and arithmetic performance significantly increased. The results suggest that activities including horticulture, conversation, and/or creative work contribute to improving cognitive functioning in elderly people. Further examination revealed that the performance gain occurred in the verbal memory-motor system, which is generally understood as the phonological loop in the working memory. The dynamics and susceptibility of cognitive processes in elderly people are discussed in relation to the working memory model and other related factors.

Gardening and Virtue
Dan O’Brien

Some academics are driven throughout their careers by a particular intellectual problem and their path is straight. This is not the case with me. I began my academic career with a degree in biology, and only gradually—with some serendipity—discovered philosophy and then, after many years, secured a teaching position. In coming to write this introduction I remembered - and I had not thought about this for many years - that, along this path to philosophy, I very nearly became a horticulturalist at Pershore College, Worcestershire, but at the time to move away from the city was something I could not quite bring myself to do. Instead I took to urban gardening and vegetable growing, and, as you will see in this paper, this has not been wholly divorced from my day job. Here I explore how gardening relates to philosophical views on virtue, and I suggest that this may be relevant to the practice of therapeutic horticulture.

Book Review: Dementia Green Care Handbook of Therapeutic Design and Practice by Garuth Chalfont & Alex Walker
Reviewed by Lesley Fleming, HTR