Growing happiness

RHS and NHS teamed up at Chelsea 2018 to promote the positive impact of gardening on mental health, with gardens being relocated after the show in 2018, 2019 and 2020


  • RHS pledges two Chelsea gardens in 2019 and 2020 to NHS patients
  • 2018 RHS Feel Good Garden to live on at Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust after the show finishes
  • A Gardening for Health Forum at RHS Chelsea Flower Show explores ways to promote non-medical – or social prescribing - alongside traditional treatments


For the first time, the RHS and NHS joined forces at the Chelsea Flower Show to promote the positive impact that gardening has on mental health. 75% of all NHS mental health trusts in England, 39 in total, entered an RHS competition to win the RHS Feel Good Garden and have it relocated to their trust, demonstrating the significant recognition of the positive impact that gardens and gardening can have on mental health.  

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust has won the 2018 Feel Good Garden competition. The garden, designed by Matt Keightley, will live on after the Chelsea show at the trust for patients and staff to enjoy. The RHS has pledged that another two Chelsea Flower Show gardens - one in 2019 and one in 2020 - will be also be gifted, via a competition, to NHS mental health trusts in England.

Gardening for health

The RHS hosted a Gardening for Health Forum on 24 May, which explored ways to promote non-medical – or social prescribing - alongside traditional treatments. The forum was chaired by Professor Tim Kendall, NHS national clinical director for mental health, who was a judge for this year’s Feel Good Garden competition.

At the forum, attended by mental health trusts in England, Matt Keightley highlighted the journey for the competition garden after Chelsea and its adaptation for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, while RHS Chief Horticulturist Guy Barter and NHS’s clinical champion for social prescribing, Dr Mike Dixon, will examine how gardening and gardens can benefit patients and outpatients.  

Other experts taking part included Lucy Stone, Connecting People with the Environment, DEFRA who will lead a discussion on offering nature-based therapies alongside traditional treatments through social prescribing.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says: “With 75% of England’s mental health trusts entering this competition we have to make the most of the huge recognition at these trusts that gardens and gardening can make a positive difference to our health and wellbeing.   

“We passionately believe that everyone should have access to gardens and getting our Chelsea gardens living on is a core part of our Greening Grey Britain campaign to transform grey spaces to green places for the nation’s heath, happiness and for the environment.

“We’re committed to continuing to work with the NHS for at least the next two years to share our gardening knowledge and help more patients and staff to grow.”

Professor Tim Kendall, NHS National Director for Mental Health says: “The therapeutic value of spending time gardening and in green spaces is increasingly recognised, which is what has made this partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society so exciting. More and more, patients and their doctors are looking beyond medicines and traditional treatments, through a range of activities, including exercise, gardening and nature. We are absolutely thrilled that the RHS is pledging to work with us in future years, leading to the gift of a further two amazing gardens to NHS patients and staff.”


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