BMJ Award

Over the moon to see the Gardening4health website and directory shortlisted for this BMJ award.

Looking at the other finalists I suspect I have very little chance of success. However, the real win will be in the wider publicity for Social and Therapeutic Horticulture through the awards process, especially in the Medical and Social Prescribing worlds.

I have to face a grilling by the judges, and will know the outcome in a few weeks. Thanks to everyone whose support for the directory is so hugely appreciated.

NGS Annual Lecture – 11.11.20

Tom & Sue Stuart Smith – Gardens are for people

I really enjoyed watching this lecture .

An extraordinary couple with a wealth of knowledge reflecting on their careers both in Garden Design, and Psychiatry respectively. Sue has recently published her fabulous book – The Well Gardened Mind.

The net effect was a comprehensive review of the importance of gardens in people’s lives – especially recent projects on Municipal and Hospital gardens, and a focus on Social and Therapeutic Horticulture.

Visit to The Mount – NGS – 12.7.20

If you’re up for a restoration project – The Mount – today’s @nationalgardenscheme garden – is an inspiration.

Mrs Claxton’s favourite garden so far – in a rural backwater of Rochester – a stunning Georgian house with beautiful gardens is truly wonderful.

For me the highlights were the restored kitchen garden, hothouses, beautiful shaded meadow planting, a pond with the perfect waterlily flower, and a stunning white and yellow border- punctuated by yew hedge bookends.

Imaginative ground cover with creeping Thyme and a mown labyrinth for small scale charm, contrasted with a magnificent ancient Cedar towering over the summerhouse.

Lots of ideas to think about here: Lonicera nitida giving a neatly clipped alternative to yew or box hedges, raised asparagus beds for those of us with lumbago.

Refreshments taken in the kitchen garden included home-made cheese muffins and elderflower cordial. What more could you ask for?

Visit to Lindengate – 11.7.20

On an old allotment site by a garden centre near Amersham is an extraordinary garden.

Founded in 2012 the @lindengate charity occupies a five acre site and is open this weekend as part of the @nationalgardenscheme

Its groundbreaking purpose is to provide a therapeutic sanctuary to people with mental health problems. People with problems such as Depression or Anxiety, Dementia, Learning disabilities, Head Injuries, Autistic Spectrum Disorders or even loneliness can be referred formally, or can self-refer.

They are the Gardeners, and are supported by an amazing team of dedicated Staff and Volunteers.

Typical sessions run for three hours and can be either short or long term depending on their needs.

Through “Social and therapeutic horticulture” Gardeners gain in so many ways. A nurturing environment where they can learn new skills, including crafts, carpentry, cooking as well as the gardening and garden planning.

Co-founder Charlie Powell has collected evidence in terms of not just improvements of depression, anxiety or dementia symptoms, but also self-esteem, confidence and a sense of belonging. Of course there’s also the benefit of physical activity and fresh air.

She told me that whilst Gardeners can come and get involved with planned activities, it’s also important for them to know it’s OK if they just want to sit in peace and quiet.

There’s a strong emphasis on Biodiversity and the ecology of the site is taken very seriously. This integration with the garden’s environment is clearly mirrored in the Gardeners’ integration with society.

Currently Charlie’s main concern is how to get back up and running in a safe way after lockdown; taking all the precautions needed for Staff, Volunteers and Gardeners’ wellbeing.

I know of nowhere quite like it in the UK. Visit if you can or donate.

Visit to NGS Garden Nettlestead Place – 5.7.20

Lovely visit on a windy but dry day to this garden near Yalding. An ancient priory surrounded by amazing borders – spectacular lavender & herbaceous borders. Highlights included the Dierama – Echinops – Salvias all looking at their best.

Meadows and bamboo walk – mature specimen trees – oriental hill garden and a maze with beech walk and a tennis court. Multitude of sculptures throughout. 2 Visits in 1 day.

Visit to NGS Garden Goddards Green – 5.7.20

First visit of the day to Goddards Green in Cranbrook. Beautiful ancient house with outbuildings – home of one of the original Cranbook clothiers – now lovingly looked after by the Wotton family.

Rhill stemming from modern pyramidal fountain with echoes in the triangular aperture in yew hedging – with formal paved garden below and Dierama around a well swaying in the breeze. Erigeron everywhere. Deep secluded duckpond with jetty and sculpture. Also an amazing meadow with meticulously logged tree planting in a new pinetum. Honeybee hives. Modest Kitchen Garden. Swimming pool with Mediterranean themes planting around and a gorgeous hammock surrounded by lushgrasses. Huge platters of succulents & paddle plants. Magnolia lawn and more conservative planting in the borders.

Doddington Place Gardens – 28.6.20

Brilliant visit to Doddington Place in Kent today. Open as part of the National Garden Scheme.

Dodging the showers, we adored the mixture of planting: lush deep woodland with two-tone Summer Ragwort, beautiful herbaceous borders, a formal sunken garden, and an arid rock garden.
Highlights from the borders included lovely salvias, cardoons, box, geums and astrantia. Also a fabulous Indian pokeweed, foxgloves, and Matiliija poppies – fried egg plants.

But most spectacular of all was the wonderful array of cloud-clipped ancient yew hedges. Like a green Mount Rushmore.

Limekiln Farm – 20.6.20

Open garden visit with @ccl964 to the wonderful gardens of Michael and Joan Royle at Limekiln Farm near Hailsham.
Their thoughtful map and quiz took us around their beautiful gardens. Social distancing observed at all times.
Fabulous physic and vegetable garden with raised beds. Lovely use of own grown woven willow stems as plant supports throughout.
Stunning ancient buildings with the most amazing old brick staircase on the barn covered in Erigeron.

Wonderful ancient oak tree with beautiful meadow below. Opposite side of the house a lovely herbaceous border-lined lawn. Colour schemes all thematically arranged culminating in a multicoloured rose walk to an arbour seat. Amazing scent.

Also ponds, a fabulous spinney, ancient barn for wood store and a deliciously understated looking swimming pool and pool house.