By HEALTH EDITOR | UPDATED: 08:28, 07 May 2020
At a time of enforced immobility and isolation for all, accompanied by great anxiety and personal tragedy for many, it has become clear that gardens have been a powerful source of hope and positivity for a great many of us.
People who would never call themselves keen gardeners have discovered that tending a few plants in a window-box, nurturing a houseplant or tackling that untidy back garden has transformed their mental state.
Long-term gardeners have found the enforced extra time in their gardens has been similarly therapeutic.
Looking after plants and watching them grow engages the nurturing instinct that is a powerful part of the human psyche. At the same time, in a time of profound crisis and uncertainty, the regular continuity of nature is able to instil optimism and hope.
On Friday 8th May the National Garden Scheme will launch Gardens and Health Week championing and demonstrating the benefits of gardens to everyone’s health and wellbeing.
The campaign is led by gardening broadcaster and National Garden Scheme Ambassador, Rachel de Thame, with a film telling how her garden was crucial during 2018 and 2019 when she was diagnosed with and underwent treatment for breast cancer.
Rachel says: “My garden became a lifeline, it was a place of escape… but above all it offered me a sense of promise for the future, that glimmer of optimism kept me going through treatment.”
With all its gardens closed since the lockdown in March, the National Garden Scheme has been sharing a weekly series of short Virtual Garden Visits filmed in their gardens by the people who open in support of the charity.
From Friday the new batch of films will all have a health focus. Some have been filmed in hospital or other health settings; these include the garden of a Marie Curie hospice, a Horatio’s Garden for a spinal injuries unit and a Maggie’s centre for cancer sufferers – all garden spaces supported by National Garden Scheme funding.
There are also films by National Garden Scheme garden owners demonstrating the benefits to their health, such as Amanda Goode whose garden helped her overcome the loss of her daughter, Alan Clements who recovered from life-threatening spinal injuries, Alison Jordan and Chris Lane whose gardens helps them cope with Parkinson’s, and two generations of GPs whose garden brings them solace in these testing times.
The campaign is supported by leading GP and exponent of social prescribing, Dr Sam Everington.
National Garden Scheme CEO George Plumptre comments: “The National Garden Scheme has been championing the health benefits of gardens for everyone since 2016 when we commissioned a report from the King’s Fund, Gardens and Health.
In the current crisis it is clear that the benefits offered by gardens have become even more important for people.
They will unquestionably play a crucial part in the national recovery, whether offering respite to those who have suffered with Covid-19, or the soothing, reassurance of either gardening or spending time in a garden.”