The ‘Health and Wellbeing’ Garden** is RHS Malvern Spring Festival’s first ever specially-commissioned permanent garden. Designed by the RHS Ambassador for Health through Horticulture, Jekka McVicar, it was the focus for the ‘Live Well Zone’, and ia haven of peace in the middle of the show.
Read more about Jekka's garden
The garden is an ellipse, divided into quarters with symmetrical paths leading to a circular central seating area, where curved seats and colourful cushions invite visitors to stop, relax and enjoy the vibrant scents, sounds and sights of the garden.
Jekka says she was inspired by the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine – a holistic system of healthcare that focuses on wellbeing of the mind and body. Its practitioners recommend breathing in the aromas of scented plants as a way of recovering from illness.
“We’ve lost the art of just sitting and enjoying gardens – we’re always in such a hurry! So the chance to make a garden in the middle of a show, that allows visitors to do exactly that – it’s unique and fantastic” says Jekka.
Jekka’s top 5 plants for health and wellbeing
Mint: the garden has many fantastic kinds of mint, including ‘Black Mitcham’ peppermint, which makes a fantastic tea, and is great in puddings and ices – even a chocolate mousse! Tashkent mint – a spearmint – is also great in tea, and combines well with fruit – try it chopped over strawberries.
Flax (linseed) is really important for the diet – “when I did my 'Modern Apothecary Garden' at Chelsea, I spoke to lots of health consultants, and asked them which herb was most important to them; they all recommended flax as part of the diet – it’s super for the joints, bowels and eyesight” says Jekka.
Calendula – originally it was a pot herb – it was eaten. But today its use in oils and ointments has been proven to heal dry skin and eczema and scars.
“Rosemary is a must-have for any garden – not only is it good for lamb – it helps you digest fatty food. Or make a memory-boosting tea!”
And Jekka’s desert island herb – “the Lamiaceae family, without a doubt”. When challenged that this is a cheat: “I couldn’t pick just one! I’d have seeds in my pocket anyway!”
**With thanks to Hartley Botanic who kindly donated the greenhouse. The garden will be maintained by Pathways – a charity for people with learning difficulties.