Two ex-servicemen help Ben Fogle plant a commemorative tree in the new Gardening Leave therapy garden:
For several years The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company has been providing ongoing support to Gardening Leave, a charity that provides horticultural therapy for British ex-servicemen and women.
Gardening Leave has two gardens in Scotland, and has recently taken over a new walled garden within the grounds of The Royal Hospital, Chelsea. In this highly protected environment, veterans from the armed services who are suffering from the mental affects of combat, find solace and inspiration in regular gardening activities.
The official opening of the garden was attended by more than 100 supporters, among them Paula Parker, Head of Scotts UK Marketing, and Mike Suter, Sustainability Development Manager, Scotts International. They watched as two veterans who are currently receiving therapy helped TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle plant a commemorative tree.
Ben, who has recently returned from a trek to the North Pole with Prince Harry and a group of wounded soldiers, reminded visitors that there are many servicemen and women who return from combat wounded and scarred both mentally and physically. He said: “I know how good gardening is for mind, body and soul in returning veterans back to good health. I hope this tree thrives as well as Gardening Leave.”
Speaking to one of the veterans, we found out how regular attendance under the watchful eye of Horticultural Therapist Tara Jeewoonarain, has helped him combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He told us: “The work of building this garden has been physically tiring, but mentally rewarding. I have been troubled with regular sleep disturbance for some time and trying to work meant a reliance on coffee to keep me awake, which led to an inability to fall asleep plus regular disturbed nights. My involvement in this garden and gardening is now making a big difference. Just going out with a purpose in the fresh air, building, sowing and planting has provided real benefits. I’m now fitting in trips to Gardening Leave between work shifts and my tiredness and sleepless nights are gradually improving.”
Since taking over the site in autumn 2010, the veterans have restored some terraced beds, built paths and patios and started work on growing fruit and vegetables in raised beds with a lot of help from Miracle-Gro composts and plant foods.
You can find details about Gardening Leave and its work in the new London garden and existing gardens at Erskine and Auchincruive by visiting its website – www.gardeningleave.org.