Gardening Against the Odds Update
It’s been almost 2 months since we relaunched Gardening Against the Odds and we thought we would take this opportunity to share with you just a few of the stories and tips so far that we have been featuring on our dedicated facebook page.
LOCKDOWN GARDENING AGAINST THE ODDS
Intensive care doctor YASMIN MILNER has turned to gardening to help her relax between stressful and exhausting shifts at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. We’re so pleased to have this video Yasmin has made specially for Gardening Against The Odds.
Yasmin is doing some research with The Conservation Foundation to produce quantifiable information which can be used to encourage more doctors to prescribe gardening and for more spaces to be made available for community therapeutic gardens. We’d love anyone who is gardening against the odds to take part. Please click here.
CHILDREN GARDENING AGAINST THE ODDS
A novel children’s gardening idea from broadcaster, writer and gardener CHRIS COLLINS, who’s introduced a fair few children to gardening over the years.
Create a circle, either in open ground or in a large container. You can use recycled materials like bricks or pebbles.
Dig over the ground thoroughly and rake the soil level, add compost if you have some. Then tread with the feet taking out any air pockets in the soil and rake again.
Divide the circle into four or five ‘pizza slices’ using more of your recycled materials.
Pick crops for each pizza slice section, these could be rocket, basil, coriander, salad leaves, mustard leaves, chard, spinach or even tomatoes and peppers.
Pick crops that can be used as a pizza topping. It’s a good idea to sow these crops in the classroom (in a propagator) would be ideal and the transplant out into your pizza wheel or you can buy them as plugs (baby plants).
GARDENING FOR MENTAL WELLBEING
GEORGE SINGER is an award winning designer of glorious chandeliers. After a recent very creative, exciting and manic period working with other designers and artists, he self-admitted as a voluntary patient at Rydon Hospital in Somerset, where he and Megan Gibbon enjoyed a different kind of creativity – gardening.
George makes bespoke chandeliers and lighting installations for hotels and homes around the world. All George Singer products are hand-made in his London studio from UK-sourced materials, using UK factories. He also carries out all his own installations.
Now back in his home town for a week’s rest before returning to work in London, George is keen on following up with how the garden progresses in the Rydon ward in Somerset. He’s offering his gardening services in the small garden London’s Maudsley Hospital- where he was first admitted in 2014. He is also keen on tending to the flower beds in the public square outside his London-bridge apartment.
Seeing the corn grow, I see even though we can get demolished in life, we grow again,” explains A, a 52 year old Tamil man from Sri Lanka. He is one of a group of refugees and asylum seekers who have experienced great trauma in places of war and unrest and belong to SLAM GROUNDING, a remarkable therapeutic gardening project, where, in one gardener’s words, “I can rest my mind.”
“Here reminds me of my garden in Bosnia,” says B, a 53 year old woman. “It makes me feel I am home. I can rest my mind.” Gardening is the common language and the results are extraordinary as C, a 43 year old man from Ethiopia, explains with perfect simplicity, “We are different cultures, different nationalities, different religions and we are one, sharing.”
Grounding is facilitated by Dr Gemma Eke, a clinical psychologist and Myriam Sarens, a horticultural therapist and psychotherapist and is supported by the MAUDSLEY CHARITY. It takes place at ROOTS AND SHOOTS, the Lambeth educational and environmental charity and includes gardening, evidenced based trauma therapy and a community group where members can share a meal often made from salad or vegetables from the garden.
It is diverse and inclusive, bringing together people from all over the world who have experienced torture, political violence, imprisonment, slavery or trafficking. All have PTSD, which can bring other challenges such as relational difficulties, social isolation, depression and anxiety. For some, mental distress isn’t accepted or acknowledged in their culture and receiving support in a community setting means this can be given without stigma.
Grounding is a story of hope. Its gardeners tell stories of recovery and what has helped their steps towards recovery. It helps people feel better through gardening, kindness and a gentle route to follow.
St Paul’s Woodland Garden
The group of gardeners from St Pancras Hospital who volunteer at ST PAUL’S WOODLAND GARDEN in Camden have been missing their weekly visits during lockdown. Green City Projects’ Ben Ledden and Catherine Tidnam, who run the garden, arranged for seeds, baby plants and compost to be delivered to them by the hospital’s activity worker, Tom Parnell, pictured below.
“Our patients struggle with severe mental health issues and it has been great for us to continue to feel part of the Gardening Project during this time”, Tom explained. A WhatsApp video call helps them get their hospital garden growing and tomatoes, basil, squash, peas, courgettes, cucumber, basil and sunflowers are coming along. Said one patient, “It felt like we were off the ward and at the Woodland Garden again”.
Below is a short film we made last year about the fantastic St Pauls Woodland Garden.
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK
For Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked ALEXANDRA NOBLE, designer of the RHS Health and Wellbeing Garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, to suggest her top five plants which are beneficial for our mental health – one for each day of the week.
We also put together a selection of five books – one for each day – which give us the opportunity to find out more about why gardening and gardens make us feel better, what plants to choose and how to make our garden, however large or small, bring comfort and wellbeing to our minds and bodies.
We will continue to share some of the stories from time to time here on the news pages of the website but for anyone wanting to follow along in real time please come and check out https://www.facebook.com/gardeningagainsttheodds for loads more uplifting stories and great advice. Don’t forget you can also contact us on the facebook page or email us at GATO@conservationfoundation.co.uk to share your stories and tips too. We look forward to hearing from you.