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May 10 2019

celebrating the national garden scheme ‘a path to health’ campaign

The National Garden Scheme’s Gardens and Health week is an annual event aiming to raise awareness of the physical and mental health benefits of gardens and gardening throughout the year. 

Speaking on behalf of the charity, CEO George Plumptre said “Championing the health benefits of gardens has been at the heart of our ethos since 1927”, which is also something Horatio’s Garden has been equally passionate about since our beginning in 2012. 

The National Garden Scheme’s brand new campaign, ‘A Path to Health’, is running between 11th-19th May with an emphasis on the importance of social prescribing and the role of gardens in helping to lead people on a positive path to health. 

Both our own research and the National Garden Scheme’s reflect how valuable gardens are in improving people’s mental and physical wellbeing. The chance to spend time both reflecting and reconnecting with nature, as well as being able to enjoy beautiful spaces in the company of friends and family really does have an enormously positive impact. 

This has been recognised by NHS England, as they now include gardening as one of the important elements of social prescribing, a key component of the their comprehensive model of personalised care. According to NHS England, 2.5 million people will benefit from social prescribing by 2024, so the powers of gardens are likely to be realised by many more of us in the coming years.  

This undoubtedly makes the work of both Horatio’s Garden and the National Garden Scheme even more vital to people throughout the UK. 

As many of you will already know, the Scheme recently committed to supporting Horatio’s Garden for the next ten years, and has previously donated a total of £255,000 to our garden projects in both Stoke Mandeville and Oswestry. We are very proud to be recognised and supported by this brilliant organisation, and our partnership reflects the synergy between the two charities supporting patients facing difficult times. 

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We kicked off the week in Salisbury with some flower arranging, which took place in Susie Atterbury’s weekly hand therapy session. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon and many patients took the opportunity to enjoy the weather, whilst all the while engaging in Susie’s gentle gardening activity. Later on in the week too there was the opportunity for patients, families, volunteers and NHS staff to join Susie in the garden for a spot of salad and herb planting. It was a brilliant, therapeutic afternoon and a whole range of people made the most of all the health benefits that gardening has to offer.

As the week progressed, more stories flooded in from all our gardens. At Stoke Mandeville, our volunteers were kept busy by a number of keen gardeners. This is included young Ola, who enjoyed planting sunflowers and poached egg plants with her family and volunteer Fi in readiness for her to take home that week. Meanwhile, Rosemary was busy picking fresh mint for her afternoon peppermint tea!

A particularly sunny Tuesday evening that week also meant that volunteer Beryl could conduct her flower arranging workshop for longer into the evening. This gave patients Ranjit and Peter the chance to really spend time crafting their pieces, and we think you’ll agree that the result is truly gorgeous.

In the north our Scotland garden held a ‘Soil, Seeds, Skills and Support Fun Day’ where everyone was welcome. The day was a huge success, with a great many patients and volunteers getting involved in a variety of activities. This included ‘kokedama magic’ as Head Gardener Sallie Sillars put it, as well as creating numerous arts and crafts. We also loved working with Disability Sport Scotland, who provided Boccia, SIS giant jenga, and BackUp garden wheelchair skills for patients to get involved in. As Sallie received so much positive feedback, Horatio’s Garden, Scotland’s Garden Scheme and Disability Sport Scotland have decided to make the occasion an annual event. We are incredibly pleased that the day went so well and that patients were so enthusiastic about everything on offer in the garden. 

Thank you to all our volunteers who supported the ‘A Path to Health’ activities going on throughout the week. It’s been a joy to see so many patients and visitors spending time in our gardens – long may it continue!

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