As part of plans to celebrate its 70th birthday, the NHS and the RHS are joining forces to promote how gardening, gardens and green spaces are good for health, happiness and general wellbeing. The collaboration will consist of a competition to relocate a 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden, The RHS Feel Good Garden, designed by Matt Keightley, to one of England’s NHS mental health trusts.
The RHS Feel Good Garden at Chelsea is being designed to provide a contemporary and therapeutic space which focusses on health and wellbeing.
RHS Director General Sue Biggs said:
“There is nothing quite like gardening to help your mind to simply think about the task in hand, be it weeding, pruning or planting.”
She continued: “Gardeners have known about mindfulness for generations and with increased pressures through things like social media, now more than ever we need to get outside moving and loving nature to calm us, get exercise and be kind to ourselves.”
About the competition
NHS mental health trusts in England are now being invited to enter a competition to win the Garden, which Matt will redesign to best suit the space and needs of the Trust and provide a place where staff and patients can garden, relax and be close to nature.
The aim is to raise awareness of the positive impact that horticulture has on mental health and to promote how gardens can provide relaxing and rehabilitative spaces. This will include RHS providing advice and tool kits for use by NHS organisations and staff.
There are gardens and green spaces in NHS settings, but it is hoped the RHS’ Garden will help to further promote the benefits of gardening and green spaces to the health and wellbeing of the nation in the year that the NHS turns 70.
Writer, broadcaster and gardener, Monty Don said: “I know from personal experience how gardening helps heal many mental and physical ills. When you are sad a garden comforts. When you are humiliated or defeated a garden consoles.”
Competition closing date 16 March, 2018
“When you are consumed by anxiety it will soothe you and when the world is a dark and bleak place it shines a light to guide you on.”
The benefits of gardening
The Kings Fund report on Gardens and Health, which was funded by the National Garden Scheme (NGS) states that: “The mental health benefits of gardening are broad and diverse. Studies have shown significant reductions in depression and anxiety, improved social functioning and wider effects, including opportunities for vocational development.*
“In particular, some quantitative studies found significant reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety while qualitative studies found enhanced emotional wellbeing, improved social functioning, improved physical health and opportunities for vocational development.”**
Interest in social prescribing by the NHS and doctors – where patients are referred to local, non-clinical community services which could include gardening – is on the increase across England. An estimated 20% of GPs’ time is spent on problems with social causes, and social prescribing could be a way to manage increasing demands on the NHS, including pressures on GPs’ time.***
*https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/default/files/field/field_publication_file/Gardens_and_health.pdf *page 6 **page 26
*** Torjesen, I. (2016) Social Prescribing could help alleviate pressure on GPs. BMJ, 352:i1436