Gardening Is 'Saving' People From Grief By Providing A Safe Space For Reflection

56% of people surveyed said gardening provides a sense of routine and purpose while grieving.

While it’s something we will all experience throughout our lives, grief can still leave us feeling unmoored and uncertain of how to carry on. Even when the loss isn’t a shock and we believe we have mentally prepared, the love we had for those we’ve lost runs deep – and so does our grief.

So, what do you do? Do you choose distraction? Do you cry alone in bed? There is no wrong way to grieve but finding the way that helps us to heal and feel is what we’re often drawn to.

Well, for some people, spending time in the garden, growing and tending to new life, is the perfect remedy after a death.

How gardening is helping people to recover from loss

According to research from national bereavement charity Sue Ryder, gardening and nature can have a profound impact on the grieving process and 40% of the 1,000 respondents surveyed said that gardening had actually ‘saved’ them from their grief.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, over a third (37%) of respondents said that flowers helped to evoke memories of lost loved ones and 42% of those said that roses were the ones most likely to bring a loved one to mind.

It seems that even in moments that we can’t find, or don’t want to find the words, we can still find comfort and support in the nature surrounding us and even right in our gardens.

Sue Ryder has partnered with award-winning designer Katherine Holland to bring these insights to life through the Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden at the upcoming RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The garden aims to provide a sensory sanctuary for visitors to reflect and share their own experiences of grief.

The garden design has already elicited feelings of peace and calm in respondents, underscoring the therapeutic potential of green spaces and nature.

This is backed by a recent study conducted by psychiatric unit researchers which found that being in nature reduced feelings of isolation, promoted calm, and lifted mood among patients.

“I found from my own experiences of grief that I needed a green space to reflect and sit with my feelings”

Katherine Holland, garden designer of the Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show said: “For the Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden, I am creating a safe and sensory sanctuary for visitors to sit within in the beauty of nature, whilst encouraging them to either share their own experiences of grief or have a moment of reflection.

“I found from my own experiences of grief that I needed a green space to reflect and sit with my feelings. Through this garden, I wanted to emulate this and with the layout give visitors the feeling that they are being given a ‘green hug’.”

The Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden is sponsored by Project Giving Back, the unique grant-giving charity that funds gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on