(CBS) — A local hospice provider has been encouraging some of its patients to stop and smell the roses.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports Passages Hospice has signed up some of its patients to use the Horticultural Therapy program at the Chicago Botanic Garden in north suburban Glencoe.

“We had one patient request to go, and so we worked out kind of a onetime arrangement, and she loved it so much, that we started talking to the garden more and more,” said Passages communications manager Kaitlyn Henderson.

The patients will be able to visit the Sensory Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden to reap the benefits of that environment. The Botanic Garden has offered horticulture therapy for more than 30 years, to provide comfort and stress relief through gardening for veterans, the elderly, and the disabled.

Henderson said anyone can appreciate plant life, but especially patients who used to be gardeners.

“Being in that environment again is not only soothing to be in nature, but it’s also really life-affirming – that this is something that you’ve enjoyed your whole life, and you can continue to enjoy it all the way at the end,” she said.

Being among the roses and hollyhocks releases stress and is something to be enjoyed even at the end of one’s life, she said. Horticulture therapy is especially helpful to those with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or dementia, according to Henderson.

“Maybe it’s the warmth, or the scents,” she said. “We’ve found that some of the tremors, and the pain, and that sort of stuff can kind of decrease when they’re in that environment.”

Henderson said their patients have responded well to the Sensory Garden.

“You’re completely engrossed and surrounded in that environment, and you can completely forget your disease, or any stress, or any worries that you have for that time, and just enjoy … what nature has to offer,” she said.

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