Helping worthy causes | Love The Garden

Helping worthy causes

Geoff Hodge's picture
By Geoff Hodge, Botanical Expert (BSc, MCIHort)

Scotts Miracle-Gro has a strong community outreach programme. We are deeply committed to supporting charities and projects that aim to enrich gardening communities.

We are encouraging people to discover the joys of gardening for themselves and helping them take pleasure in all the benefits that this beneficial activity brings. We also support charities that use gardening and horticulture as a source of therapy, helping to improve people’s lives and rehabilitation into the modern world. Such charities include those supporting wounded servicemen and young offenders.

Here are just some of the major projects we help with.

Horticultural Therapy with Gardening Leave

 

Staff and veterans at the Gardening Leave project in Ayr
Staff and veterans at the Gardening Leave project in Ayr

Gardening Leave is a charity that focuses on the mental health of ex-servicemen and women. It tends to the invisible wounds of conflict by using horticultural therapy to support veterans on their journey to good health and their transition to civilian life. We have supported this worthwhile charity since its launch with composts, fertilisers and a range of other garden care products.

 

They currently have four gardens – Ayr Auchincruive, Glasgow Erskine Hospital, London Royal Hospital Chelsea and London East Acton – and this year we are helping them set up an exciting new Dundee garden. Here the charity is converting a currently unused bowling pitch and pavilion in one of the poorest areas of Dundee. While our primary assistance will be to the veterans, we will also aim to bring benefits to the surrounding community. The site will produce large quantities of vegetables for use by local soup kitchens for the homeless and we hope to pass on excess produce to the local Food Bank.

Through Gardening Leave, this year we have also donated compost to the Union Jack Club, a Service charity that offers accommodation to members of the Armed Forces in central London.

Our donations help ensure the veterans who attend Gardening Leave projects receive quality horticultural therapy. The sessions the charity offer help veterans regain their confidence and concentration, maximise their social, cognitive, physical and psychological functioning, and enhance their general health and wellbeing.

Find out more about Gardening Leave

Headley Court & HighGround

 

Planting at the new Horticulture Therapy Centre at Headley Court
Hayden Ayres, Henry Sakyi and Carole Sales plant up the new garden with some roses

 

Horticultural therapy is also used at Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.

We are working very closely with Carol Sales, the first Horticultural Therapist appointed at Headley Court, through the new charity HighGround.

Our involvement is helping to establish horticultural therapy as part of the rehabilitation process. Gardening projects we support – including providing composts and other planting media, as well as help and advice, for the Walled Garden Project – provide occupational therapy for convalescing troops. Medical evidence shows that horticulture provides physical, neurological, cognitive and psychological rehabilitation, testing patients’ motor skills, plus their strength and endurance.

All three services – Army, Navy and RAF – use the facilities and patients are divided into three groups  – Neuro, Complex Trauma and Force Generation, which covers everyone from an amputee to a training accident.

Carol’s work varies from hour to hour as the patients have a wide range of reasons for their referral. They enjoy horticultural therapy tasks, such as sowing seeds, potting on seedlings and young plants, ground preparation in readiness for vegetables and looking after potted plants. The resources we provide enable patients in just one session to experience freedom from a clinical world, forget pain and injury, try something new and, most important of all, relax from their troubles.

A number of Headley Court’s patients were also given the responsibility for growing some of the plants for ABF The Soldiers Charity Garden at this year’s prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

 

St Elizabeth Hospice

St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich improves life for people living with progressive illnesses, providing a range of services across East Suffolk and South Norfolk.

Its work is centred on an individual’s needs, which means specialist support, wherever it is needed, whether at home, in the community or at the Hospice. The charity helps people deal with problems such as pain, anxiety and fatigue, as well as offering practical advice and family support.

Our Community Fundraising Team, headed by Emily Sheridan, is running and sponsoring a competition for 300 local schools and colleges in Suffolk to redesign part of the garden, following the building of an extension to the Hospice. The aim is to create a more interactive space that will have raised beds and pathways for wheelchair access so that patients can use the garden. The idea is to also make it a sensory space, so we will be looking to incorporate lighting in addition to tactile experiences, colour and smell.

Normandy Community Therapy

We provide regular support to Normandy Community Therapy Garden, a registered charity based in Normandy, near Guildford. Through the medium of gardening and horticulture, and linked wherever possible to a City & Guilds accredited course, the charity helps adults with mental health problems, learning difficulties and physical disabilities. It also runs a course for young special needs students from a number of local Special Schools.

The charity’s aim is to help its service users improve psychologically, physically and socially, while at the same time helping them gain self-confidence and also providing them with new and enjoyable life skills. This horticultural therapy can provide them with the opportunity to enter into further education, training and potential employment.

For people with a health need, it can offer a personalised programme of therapeutic horticultural activities, to help people rebuild their lives after an accident or illness. Horticultural therapy can also help with an individual’s rehabilitation, by helping improve coordination and balance.

For older people, the charity can demonstrate techniques that make gardening easier, while retaining the great benefits of healthy exercise.

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