“Championing the health benefits of gardens has been at the heart of our ethos since our foundation in 1927 when we opened gardens to raise funds for community nursing,” explains National Garden Scheme CEO, George Plumptre.
“From the beneficiaries receiving funding from us today to the garden owners who have found solace in creating and sharing their gardens with visitors - we know that gardens and gardening form an important path to improved health and wellbeing.”
In 2016, the National Garden Scheme commissioned The King’s Fund report, Gardens and Health and began funding charities doing gardens and health-related projects. A year later its Gardens & Health programme was launched.
This acceptance of the important role that gardens can play in our health and wellbeing continues to grow nationally, and gardening is now one of the key pillars of social prescribing; a key component of the NHS comprehensive model of personalised care. According to NHS England, 2.5 million people will benefit from social prescribing by 2024.
“Gardening ticks many boxes,” says Professor Sir Sam Everington who leads the pioneering Bromley by Bow social prescribing movement in London. “Whether it’s a houseplant, a window box, an allotment or a back garden, gardening is accessible to all of us. It provides purpose, hope, routine and rewarding results. In a community context, like an allotment, therapy garden or even a garden at a GPs surgery, it also generates conversation helping to reduce isolation and create a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose.”
The National Garden Scheme is fully supportive of social prescribing and champions the introduction of people to gardens and green spaces for improved health. We offer free visits to National Garden Scheme gardens for members of our beneficiary charities such as full-time carers. Providing carers with a well-earned break in a beautiful garden and bringing them together with people in similar roles can be hugely restorative.
National Garden Scheme CEO George Plumptre says; “With all our gardens forced to close during Covid-19 we had to rethink how people could access our gardens. With the support of our garden owners, we launched a series of virtual garden visits, short films taking supporters on virtual tours of over 180 National Garden Scheme gardens great and small.”
The unsolicited feedback was universal; that even a virtual visit helped reduce isolation and stress and took people’s minds off the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We followed up these findings with a survey in which 92% said that gardens and outdoor spaces had been extremely important to their physical and mental health during lockdown. The feedback to our virtual visits and our survey has confirmed that the power of gardens to do good is as important as ever and a cause we will continue to champion.”
Imagery courtesy of the National Garden Scheme