Gardens and health in the community

Gardens and Health Week 2018 (18th – 24th August) highlighted the mental wellbeing benefits of garden visiting – and many National Garden Scheme gardens raised awareness of the restorative effects of beautiful gardens in their own communities throughout the week. Over 50 garden owners invited service users and staff from local charities to enjoy their gardens on a private visit, free of charge.

Clare, who opens her award-winning garden, 1 Siddeley Avenue, in Kenilworth, welcomed the Feel Good Community – a group of local people with long term or chronic health conditions who are a self-supporting network in Coventry. The group are self-care advocates and used the visit to write poetry about the garden, touch and smell the plants, meditate and enjoy the delicious cake. They created a blog about their visit and a video:

Susan and Earl from 5 St Regis Close welcomed Holocaust survivors, as well as service users and staff from our beneficiaries Macmillan, Marie Curie and Maggie’s, to their beautiful garden in London. The groups enjoyed all the quirky features of the garden – including the Oriental tea house, baroque temple and the stairway to heaven – as well as the calming waterfalls, weeping willow, attractive planting and Earl’s famous chocolate cake!

Claire Collins, a bereavement coordinator at Marie Curie’s Hampstead Hospice, is a National Garden Scheme bursary recipient, and wrote to Susan about her visit:

“Thank you so much for inviting us all to your wonderful home and gardens yesterday – it was a beautiful, sunny and entertaining afternoon full of amazing people, plants and cakes!  Earl, your chocolate cake was truly a thing of glory…

“It was great to meet other beneficiaries of the National Garden Scheme – thank you both so much for all the work that you do to raise funds for them.  I am so grateful, not only on behalf of the people we work with, but also personally for the fantastic opportunity that I have been given by the National Garden Scheme to take on additional learning.

“We were asked to think about how we felt before, during and after the visit to show the impact of being in a garden. I felt overheated, busy and flustered before entering the garden but when I was there, I was amazed, enthralled and thankful. Afterwards I felt calm, joyful and inspired!

“We enjoyed hearing about how the gardens came to life, piece by piece, and all the fabulous things that you both do – you are two truly inspirational people.  We left with bags of your beautiful plants, your stunning pottery and memories of the sights, smells and tastes of the afternoon which thoroughly lifted our spirits.”

Keen gardeners with visual impairments from a Kent branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind visited Lyn’s garden, 88 West Street, where she showed them around the garden and described the colourful perennials, shrubs, grasses and roses. One visitor wrote in the visitor’s book: ‘Very enjoyable, lovely scented garden with lots to feel adn touch. Brilliant descriptions given, Lovely tactile ornaments like the worm and Easter head.’

Other community activity included groups from our gardens and health beneficiary, Leonard Cheshire, visiting gardens including Mary Challis Garden in Cambridgeshire, White Cottage in Kent, Rotherfield Greys in Hampshire, The Old Vicarage in Sussex.

May from Leonard Cheshire commented during her visit to White Cottage, “To be somewhere like this is beautiful. I wish this was my garden, I’d be out here all day. I don’t want to go home!”

Residents from Leonard Cheshire in Dorset, visited Knitson Old Farmhouse in Corfe Castle, and enjoyed the calming surroundings, with one visitor saying, “It’s so peaceful and quiet here, lovely to hear the birds and occasional whistle of the steam train.”

Visit our Gardens and Health Week pages to find out more about the positive impact garden visiting can have on your mental wellbeing, and sign up to our gardens and health newsletter to hear the latest from the National Garden Scheme about the impact of gardens and gardening on physical and mental health.


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