A New "Meditative Gardening" Course from the Hadley School for the Blind

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As our readers know, I have great admiration for the ongoing – and important – educational commitment of The Hadley School for the Blind. The mission of Hadley is to promote independent living through lifelong distance education programs for people who are blind or visually impaired, their families, and blindness service providers.

A New Meditative Gardening Course from Hadley

This week, I received information from Hadley about a new course offering that is timely, innovative, and dear to my heart: sensory gardening. Here is more information about the course, via a Hadley press release:

Meditative Gardening Course Helps Blind Students Get in Touch with Nature

For centuries, civilizations have been using gardens for meditation and healing. In collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Gardens, The Hadley School for the Blind is proud to introduce a new course: Stress Relief and Meditative Gardening. Available online, this course explains how to create a garden space in your home that can be used for stress relief and meditation.

"Persons with vision impairments will find that creating a meditative garden is primarily a tactile activity. Digging, planting, pruning, and picking are best done by feel, and with a few modifications you can create your own peaceful space in your home," explains instructor Edwin Haines.

This four-lesson course contains the following information:

  • Lesson 1: Describes healing gardens and explains the proven benefits of a healing garden.
  • Lesson 2: Provides information to help you choose an area in your home to create a meditative garden.
  • Lesson 3: Explains the elements of basic houseplant needs, describes many different types of plants to choose from, and explores the qualities of healthy plants.
  • Lesson 4: Presents basic gardening techniques and explores calming, stress-reducing techniques to follow when in your meditative garden space.

The course emphasizes the use of all senses in gardening and demonstrates how many of the essential tasks can be done without sight. For example, the best method for determining if a plant needs water is to simply feel the soil. Probe the soil with your finger one to two inches deep. If the soil is dry, the plant needs water.

rose garden

The course also offers examples of common plants that are interesting to touch, such as Begonia, the Jade Plant, and Baby Tears, as well as plants that are very fragrant including herbs like mint and lavender.

"Meditative gardening is an easily adaptable and rewarding hobby because it is so versatile. A few containers of culinary herbs or a thoughtfully arranged group of houseplants bring the same satisfaction to indoor gardeners as a whole field of vegetables might bring to a farmer. Having a small garden with its simple daily needs may encourage you to take the time to relax and reduce your stress in a healthy way," says Haines.

This course is open to students in Hadley's Adult Continuing Education and High School programs. For more information or to enroll, please visit www.hadley.edu or contact Student Services at 800-526-9909 or student_services@hadley.edu.

Helpful Tips for Blind and Visually Impaired Gardeners from VisionAware

Gardening can indeed be a marvelous sensory and meditative experience. Here some tips that can make indoor and outdoor gardening even more relaxing and enjoyable, excerpted from Tips for Blind Gardeners on VisionAware.org:

rose garden and trellis
  • If you have low vision, create large print signs/labels with index cards and a wide-tip black marker. Laminate the cards or seal them in plastic sandwich bags. Attach each card to a small craft stick.
  • Yogurt cups with the bottoms removed can protect young plants. Sink the cup halfway into the soil and plant inside it. It will outline the area in which your seedlings are growing and can also help with weed control.
  • Lay down a fishing line or a cane and use it as a guide for planting straight rows.
  • Use an egg carton as a planting spacer. Poke a 1-inch hole in the bottom of each egg portion and position the egg carton/spacer on the soil. Place one seed into each hole and cover with soil. Gently remove the spacer and continue planting.
  • Use protective techniques to protect your face and eyes from injury when bending down in the garden.

More about Hadley

Here is an overview of Hadley's current program and course offerings:

  • The Adult Continuing Education Program (ACE) offers a wide variety of courses, including braille and academic studies, independent living, life adjustment, technology, business and employment skills, and recreation.
  • The Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the ACE Program, offers business, entrepreneurship, and technology courses for individuals who are seeking to advance their careers or successfully launch and grow a business.
  • The Blinded Veterans Initiative, also part of the ACE Program, complements the Forsythe Center. The Veterans Benefits module contains information on disability compensation, pensions, medical care benefits, survivor benefits, and veteran-specific resources.
  • The Family Education Program offers courses for family members – grandparents, spouses, adult children, and adult siblings of blind adults – of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Courses include child development, independent living, braille reading and writing, and adjustment to blindness.
  • The High School Program provides academic courses and electives for students who wish to earn a high school diploma. Students can earn high school credit or earn a diploma through Hadley.
  • The Hadley School for Professional Studies offers professional continuing education. Courses are available, along with continuing education (CE) credit, to anyone who works directly with blind or visually impaired individuals in a work, school, or community setting, whether as a paid employee or volunteer. CE credits are also available for select Seminars@Hadley.

Additional Information

You can find more helpful information at Tips from a Blind Gardener and Blind "Birding-By-Ear" at VisionAware.org.


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