About

our vision and mission

Our vision is to be a leading representative organisation for Australian Therapeutic Horticulture.

Our mission is to foster and support evidence-based, ethical and person-centred therapeutic horticulture in Australia and develop a robust, professional and ethical industry that is widely recognised, valued and utilised.

THA National Committee

Tara Graham-Cochrane

President

Tara is an internationally award-winning Landscape Architect who specialises in the design of healing and therapeutic landscapes for the healthcare, aged care, disability and education sectors across Australia. Tara is a strong believer that physical environments can be designed to reduce stress, improve health and to support people’s wellbeing.

Residing in Adelaide, SA, Tara is the Director of DesignWELL Landscape Architects, a landscape architecture firm that specialises in therapeutic landscapes. She has a passion for enabling people to connect with nature through therapeutic horticulture and is a founding member of THA. Prior to THA forming, Tara was President of Horticultural Therapy S.A and has been strongly active in bringing together the therapeutic horticulture community in South Australia.  Tara understands the importance of the physical environment in the lives of older Australians and is the S.A. Environmental Design Consultant for Dementia Training Australia. A government funded organisation who educates aged care providers on enabling and supportive care of people living with dementia. Tara is also the author of ‘Gardens that Care: Planning Outdoor Environments for People with Dementia’ and is well know around the aged care conference circuits as a speaker on dementia enabling landscapes.

Leigh McGaghey

Vice President

Leigh lives and works in Sydney where she designs restorative gardens for private clients, together with consulting for horticultural therapy services in aged care, multi-residential dwellings and across the community.  Leigh and her psychologist husband established Wired for Nature in 2018 to complement traditional psychological counselling strategies with horticultural therapy practices and other nature engagement activities.

The strategies they design are neurologically evidence-based, stemming from an understanding of the way our brains are ‘wired’ to respond to nature. With qualifications in landscape architecture, adult education and recreational therapy, Leigh has been able to combine these disciplines to underpin the work she does and is particularly interested in promoting therapeutic horticulture as an identified profession, together with fostering education and training pathways for practitioners. A love of science, gardens, ecology and getting lost in her own messy garden means life is constantly evolving and the people she meets through her work and voluntary roles are inspiring [and fun!].

Doug Twentyman

Secretary

Doug lives in Lake Macquarie, NSW and has been involved in horticulture for over 40 years as a partner in a wholesale propagation nursery, horticulture teacher, garden maintenance, design and horticultural consultant.  The inclusion of horticulture into therapeutic applications over the last 4 or 5 years has provided an avenue of great interest and enthusiasm. 

Particular areas of interest in horticulture and nature-based activities include training of allied health workers into sustainable outdoor activity practises across all sectors. Of particular interest is aged care, mental health and community gardens with the inclusivity these settings bring to enhancing people’s lives.

Carol Twentyman

Committee

Carol lives in Lake Macquarie, NSW and has been practicing horticulture for over 25 years, including many years as a horticulture educator. She is a partner in Twentyman Horticultural Consultants and is passionate about the therapeutic benefits of gardens and gardening for people of all capabilities.

Carol has participated in and is enthusiastic about therapeutic horticulture research and application.  She has delivered therapeutic horticulture workshops and social garden activities in the Lake Macquarie/Newcastle region as well as volunteering at a day respite centre for people with dementia. Carol has a particular interest in working with seniors, aged care and the aged care with dementia sectors. 

amy Baker

Committee

Dr Amy Baker is a researcher and lecturer based within the Occupational Therapy Program at the University of South Australia. Her research explores people’s experiences, perceived benefits and challenges of engaging in nature and gardening. Other areas of research that Amy undertakes include: creative arts for wellbeing, the health of veterans and first responders, as well as the use of sensory approaches to promote mental health and well being.

Amy mainly undertakes qualitative research, in particular participatory action research and the use of creative methods, but also some mixed methods research. Previous research projects Amy has undertaken or supervised in relation to therapeutic horticulture and nature-based activities include: horticulture therapy in a hospital setting, nature play for young people and the meanings and benefits of community gardening. Amy is a gardener, nature lover, conservationist and certified forest bathing and nature therapy guide.

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Rebecca Taylor

Committee

Rebecca is a Social Ecologist who applies a creative, nature-based, approach to her work in Community Development, Capacity Building, Adult Education and within her private Counselling practice.

Rebecca is the Founder and Director of Wyld Work Projects which facilitates creative, natured-based projects that tackle inter-generational disadvantage, social isolation and anti-social behaviour with a particular focus on addressing the underlying trauma behind those challenges.

Rebecca has an extensive history with Community and School-based gardens, and has played a central role in establishing a number of gardens in Tasmania and Victoria. Her most adventurous gardening project to date has been ‘Greening the Mall.’ A project which utilised the benefits of Therapeutic Horticulture in reducing social isolation and addressing anti-social behaviour in the local CBD. Her newest project is working on establishing a therapy farm and gardens in the Greater Geelong region – Spell Garden Therapy Farm

John Rayner

Committee

John is an Associate Professor and Director of Urban Horticulture at the University of Melbourne.  Based at the Burnley Campus, John’s teaching and research interests centre on the design and use of plants, particularly green infrastructure, children’s landscapes and in therapeutic horticulture.

He is a passionate educator, has published widely and is regularly engaged as a horticultural consultant for major projects. John is also a keen gardener and in his spare time gains great joy from nurturing and torturing plants on the one-hectare garden he cares for in the Dandenong Ranges.

Dr Patricia Buckley (Trish)

Committee

Description automatically generatedTrish has a background in community health care, residential aged care and the University sector in nursing, health care, business and entrepreneurship.

Trish also led a research centre focused on rural and remote health care issues. Her interests led to doctoral studies investigating the design and use of outdoor spaces in residential aged care settings. Trish completed a garden design course at Melbourne University, where she completed a project designing outdoor spaces for a psychiatric facility. More recently Trish has been contributing to developing the knowledge and practice base of therapeutic landscape design.

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Dean Gaston

Committee

Dean lives in Adelaide and works as Therapeutic Horticulturist in the aged care sector. He helps people live their best life possible through connecting them with plants and green spaces. Dean’s guiding principle is to bring people joy and happiness through Social and Therapeutic Horticulture.

Dean is a lifelong gardener and passionate therapeutic horticulturist. He has more than 35 years’ experience in the Horticultural Industry, fifteen of those years a social and therapeutic specialist.

Dean uses expertise in garden therapy techniques and creating enabling environments to devise creative and adaptive programs that combine exercise, sense stimulation and conversation.

Many of Deans programs focusses on people living with dementia, and those that are at risk of social isolation. Dean believes that the garden is a leveller where the often cared for, become the carers and have the opportunity to re-connect with their sense of belonging, security, significance, achievement and purpose.

Dean is a backyard beekeeper, a rock sculpture enthusiast practices vipassana meditation and practices the art of being ‘right here right now’ in his beautiful garden.

Dr Emily Bolton (BMBS) 

Committee

Dr Emily Bolton is a medical practitioner based in Melbourne. Emily’ has a wide range of experiences working across multiple specialities and systems and this led to an interest in the importance of nature to health in all its forms.

Emily completed a short course in therapeutic horticulture at CERES in Melbourne and is currently completing horticultural qualifications through the University of Melbourne to combine her two passions in health and nature. 

Emily is a mother to an adventurous toddler and has personally experienced the benefits of nature whilst raising a young family as well as observing the benefits that engaging in nature has held for her son and the essential role nature can play in a child’s development. 

Emily is a member of the THA National Committee as well as on the membership and marketing subcommittee. Emily is assisting the team in promoting THA and its activities via several social and other media platforms to its members and the wider therapeutic horticulture population. Emily views her role in THA as  one of learning, promotion, and advocacy for therapeutic horticulture in Australia. 

Tanya Bearup (BSW)

Committee

Tanya is a social worker and horticultural therapist and is the founder of “My Garden Space” a social and therapeutic gardening service based in Melbourne, Australia.

Tanya is a social worker with 25 years’ experience in aged care, disability, youth, and family services. Tanya is also a qualified horticulturist and has combined her professions to provide engaging and purposeful evidence based counselling and therapeutic services for individuals and groups utilising gardening and outdoor nature-based activities. Tanya’s passion is gardening and creating nurturing green spaces “with” others and drawing the attention of her fellow gardeners to the restorative benefits of nature. Tanya is a member of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) and has been an active member on the national committee of Therapeutic Horticulture Australia (THA) since 2021.

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Meg Foots

Committee

Meg is a student of Ecotherapy & Regenerative Agriculture, and a passionate advocate for the healing powers of nature connection. As a folk herbalist with a background in Community Services, she is currently seeking internship opportunities that combine these worlds.

Katie Grace

Committee

Katie has a background in nursing and permaculture. She has spent 8 years growing produce in the kitchen gardens at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne. Currently she works alongside the recreation team at Wintringham hostel. Her passion is to engage the elderly and vulnerable with nature.

Our 2022 Committee

We welcome our new 2022 committee members, Emily Bolton, Patricia Buckley, Meg Foots, Dean Gaston, Katie Grace, Dave McNamara and John Rayner

Sponsors

THA Sponsorship opportunities allow organisations and businesses with an interest in therapeutic horticulture the opportunity to connect with those working in the field and promote their offerings to an Australian and growing International audience. To register to receive our sponsorship prospectus, please email: secretary@tha.org.au

Foundational GOLD Sponsors

THA acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.

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