Horticulture as psychiatric therapy subject of next Live@Lanier talk April 17

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Markus Wullimann is recognized by the American Horticultural Therapy Association as a registered horticultural therapist, and has worked as an HTR with CooperRiis, a long-term residential program in Mill Springs for treating schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental issues.

At the next Live@Lanier program on Tuesday, April 17, at noon, he will share his experiences in horticultural therapy and tell of a lifelong passion for plants and growing.

As a toddler, Wullimann was dwarfed in the bright warmth and rows of his father’s greenhouse, about 50,000 square feet under glass in Switzerland. In 1979, he put a bachelor’s degree in horticulture to quick use with the opening of a second family greenhouse to supply geranium cuttings to most of Western Europe.

Later, he was recruited as general manager in Atlanta by a producer of internationally recognized clean stock geraniums. Part of the job was flying back and forth to a 5,920,151-square foot greenhouse in Kenya to teach 800 employees to grow millions of plants that could prosper in the cloudier European climates.

Today, at CooperRiis, Wullimann is currently facilities director, with fond memories of having created the therapy gardens and working alongside patients.

“Garden design depends on the patient,” Wullimann said. “An elderly patient with dementia typically responds to a gentle garden of softer shape, shade, and water. For PTSD, an option may be a working plot producing tomatoes with benchmarks of progress. If there is a sensory impairment, a garden may have highly fragrant or even stinky blooms and hairy leaves.”

Lanier Library is located at 72 Chestnut St., Tryon. For more information, call 828-859-9535 or visit www.therlanierlibrary.org.

-Submitted by Vincent Verrecchio