A Mental health garden at Chelsea Flower Show? What does that have to do with wellbeing at work, you ask?
The charity Mind is hosting a garden on Main Avenue at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May 2022 to encourage important conversations about how the outdoors and gardening can help mental health.
It will be funded by Project Giving Back and designed by eight-time RHS Chelsea gold medal winner, Andy Sturgeon.
Is Gardening Good For Wellbeing?
Mind’s research reveals that two in three adults say their mental health has worsened since the first national lockdown.
More positively, the research shows that spending time outdoors is the most popular way to cope.
Three-quarters (75%) of adults and young people have coped with lockdown by going outside, highlighting the clear synergy between mental health and spending time in nature.
Sturgeon says: “I chose to design a garden for Mind because time in nature can transform how you feel.
“It’s a very tactile space. On a deep emotional level, gardens make people happy.
“They make people relax and you can see people behave differently when they are in that environment.
“In the Mind Garden, I want people to feel embraced by the garden. I want people to feel protected when they are in it.”
For employers, encouraging more time outdoors for those in and out of the office could help with their wellbeing at work.
What Does The UK Say About Gardening And Mental Health?
In the lead-up to his garden design, Sturgeon met with Mind volunteers who shared their experiences of mental health problems and how opening up to others, gardening and the outdoors has helped them.
One volunteer, Faris Khalifa, says: “My depression and PTSD can be debilitating and I can often have strong suicidal tendencies.
“I can get stuck in my own head and need someone to speak to and just knowing I have that support and knowing that I’m loved is enough and helps.
“Gardening helped my mental health unexpectedly. I was going through a bad time and didn’t care for my mini bonsai tree.
“All the leaves fell off and it appeared to be dead. I felt really guilty. I still had some hope for it, so I gave it some water.
“Three days later, a new bright green leaf appeared, and I was overjoyed. The simple process of caring for a living thing makes you feel responsible for its wellbeing.
“So even if I’m having a terrible week, I get myself out of bed and water those plants.
“Before I know it, I see the life in them and how the sun dances between their leaves and I feel glad I’m alive.”
What Is Project Giving Back?
Project Giving Back (PGB) is a unique grant-making scheme that provides funding for gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
PGB was launched in May 2021 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on UK charitable fundraising.
It will fund gardens inspired by a range of good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022, 2023 and 2024.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, says of the garden: “We’re incredibly grateful to Project Giving Back and to Andy Sturgeon for giving Mind the chance to create a garden at the iconic RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022.
“This is a unique and special opportunity to tell Mind’s story, which has come at a crucial time given the challenges so many of us have faced over the last couple of years.”
Sturgeon’s design is a circular seating area is set within curved clay rendered walls. It will be a place to sit side-by-side and share experiences and advice. It will be surrounded by meadow-like spaces and calming birch trees.
A gravel path then arcs down to a lower level, bringing people together before the garden opens out before them.
The Mind Garden will relocate once the show is over to a local Mind so that conversations can continue for many years to come.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider reading “Toxic masculinity” is stopping boys seeking mental health support, Mental health is a reason over a third of legal professionals want to quit or Use wellbeing and health support to give staff January reboot to learn more about how to improve wellbeing in the workplace.