Thrive with Nature

lilac picket fence - thrive with nature

My name is Shelagh and I’m here to help you thrive with nature: to notice nearby nature while you go about your day; to enjoy the benefits for yourself; and to offer simple evidence-based activities to your patients and clients so they, too, can thrive with nature.

Engaging with nearby nature is on the threshold of becoming a well-established healthcare practice.

The research is coming fast and furious, but it can be a slow process to translate that research into practice in our daily lives and in caring for others. That’s where I can be useful.

As a horticultural therapist and educator, I can help you apply the latest research to enhance your own health, well-being and productivity, as well as that of your patients and clients. Read more about my qualifications at the end of this page.

I teach healthcare and social service providers:

1. to notice nearby nature in daily life for personal and professional self-care, and

2. to offer simple garden and nature programming for health promotion and therapeutic intervention.

Check out my free webinar, transformative online course, illustrated garden activity signs and instructive blog posts, all described below and linked to more info.

I hope you’ll find something here that’s useful for you.

Banfield Pavilion long-term care home garden patio

Free Webinar

Nature in the Workplace:
Professional Self-Care for Recreation Therapists
(and other Healthcare Providers)

Free Webinar with Shelagh Smith, HTR, MAEEC
Hosted by the BC Therapeutic Recreation Association
Pre-approved by NCTRC for 1 contact hour of education or .10 CEU

Live event was on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at 12 noon PDT

Recording link will be available August 28, 2019,
along with resource list & bibliography.

Sign up to receive the recording link:

If you watch the recording, and you're a recreation therapist registered with NCTRC, you'll be granted a CEU attendance certificate after you provide beginning and end codes and reply to 3 questions based on the webinar content. This offer applies until August 7, 2020. More info on the procedure once the recording link is available.

Webinar Description

The leafy green world that we inhabit is so easy to take for granted, and yet research shows that if we pay attention to nearby nature, we feel better and function more effectively. Discover simple, enjoyable activities for noticing nearby nature that fit your work site, work schedule and your personal preferences. This evidence-based, professional self-care practice is quick and easy to implement. Best of all: you’re likely to feel the benefits right away!

Learning Objectives

After the session, healthcare professionals will be able to:

  1. Identify 3 evidence-based benefits of paying attention to nearby nature as a professional self-care practice
  2. Implement 3 readily-available sensory nature activities at your work site
  3. Access 3 resources for additional information and activities

Here's what a 2016 webinar participant had to say:

Hello Shelagh - just wanted to thank you again for a wonderful, informative webinar presentation yesterday afternoon for the BC Therapeutic Recreation Association! Your pictures and thoughts inspired me about ways I can do more in both my work and personal life to bring nature more into the forefront of daily experiences.
Here are some of the things I appreciated about your webinar: the research examples, the resource info, the beautiful images, your stories, the linkages you made to TR, and your passionate, engaging manner.

Sheila Kennedy, Professional Practice Leader (retired), Therapeutic Recreation Services, Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

my daily nature practice online course

Online Course

My Daily Nature Practice: Self-Care for Healthcare Providers

Are you crazy busy caring for others? Need some self-care so you can continue to do what you’re good at?

Noticing nearby nature may be just the thing you need to enjoy your day, while increasing your energy, effectiveness and life satisfaction.

We tend to underestimate how much better we’ll feel when we focus our attention, however briefly, on the natural world around us: gazing at clouds, watching leaves dance in the breeze, or listening to birdsong.

Yes, even in the green and blue spaces of an urban environment.

My interactive online course is designed for healthcare and social service providers. Join me in this 6-week guided experience to establish a pleasurable daily practice of noticing nearby nature for personal and professional self-care. The course includes a playful and profound mix of science, nature poetry, photos and quotes, as well as personal reflections and experiential activities. All designed to inspire, equip and empower you to transform the way you feel and function in your daily life.

The course starts on September 30, 2019. Enrollment will be available in September.

Here's what one of the beta students had to say:

I usually do not take a break in the morning. It was a nice surprise - how refreshed and how much joy I feel by just pausing for a few minutes to do a simple nature-based activity in the middle of my morning. Also, a surprise for me to learn that a break does not have to be very long to be effective. Seems to give me energy for the day. Carol Shoji, BC, Canada

Sign up to receive more course info as soon as it's available:

Garden Activity Signs

Garden activity signs invite your garden visitors to independently engage with plants and listen for songbirds. They’ll know which flowers and herbs are worth smelling, and which plants need water more often. Invite them to sweep, harvest, and enjoy the garden’s delights.

Click on links to see signs:

Most popular set of signs: All 12 Signs with Stakes (17” tall!)

Most inexpensive set of signs (and my favourite!): All 12 Plant Tags

Most versatile set of signs: All 12 Attachable Signs

Signs are also available individually or in sets of 6. Click here to choose.


Shelagh's Blog

My blog posts may be of interest if you’re a healthcare or social service provider, including recreation therapists and garden program leaders who wish to offer simple therapeutic garden and nature programming.

Click on titles to read the most popular posts (or click here to see all posts):

Hospital Garden Eases Nurse Burnout

10 Signs to Engage your Garden Visitors

Not an Expert Gardener? Eight Nature-Based Programs You Can Easily Facilitate

Gardening with Kids at Alberta Children’s Hospital

Noticing Nearby Nature: An Underestimated Mental Health Strategy

About Shelagh

Shelagh Smith, HTR, MAEEC

Shelagh Smith, HTR, MAEEC, is a professional gardener, registered horticultural therapist and ecological educator. Shelagh is passionate about promoting health and well-being through daily engagement with nearby nature.

For 23 years, Shelagh developed and led therapeutic garden programs for care home residents, while supervising and mentoring many students and volunteers. She taught people with mental health issues how to grow their own food, collaborated on the design of restorative and enabling gardens, and taught a certificate program for budding horticultural therapists.

Currently, Shelagh inspires and teaches online in hopes of benefiting a wider audience with the evidence-informed practice of engaging with nearby nature for health promotion and therapeutic intervention.

She lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada and loves to travel on the back roads of British Columbia with her husband and their tiny Trillium trailer.

Click here to contact Shelagh