NHS Trust To Be Given Chelsea Flower Show Garden To Improve Patient And Staff Mental Health

Research has linked gardens to reductions in depression and anxiety.
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NHS patients and staff will benefit from a competition to give a Chelsea Flower Show garden to a mental health trust, the Royal Horticultural Society has said.

The RHS has joined forces with the NHS as it celebrates its 70th anniversary to promote gardening, gardens and green spaces as good for health, happiness and wellbeing.

The campaign involves a contest to relocate the RHS “Feel Good” garden, focusing on health and wellbeing, to one of England’s NHS mental health trusts after it has featured in the Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden is designed by the twice-winner of the RHS/BBC people’s choice award at the world famous show, Matt Keightley, to provide a contemporary and therapeutic space focusing on health and wellbeing.

English NHS mental health trusts are being invited to enter a competition to win the garden, and Mr Keightley will redesign it after the show to best suit the space and needs of the winning trust and provide a space for staff and patients to garden, relax and get closer to nature.

Matt Keightley, twice-winner of the people’s choice award at Chelsea Flower Show, is the designer of the RHS ‘Feel Good’ garden
Matt Keightley, twice-winner of the people’s choice award at Chelsea Flower Show, is the designer of the RHS ‘Feel Good’ garden

To raise awareness of the positive impact horticulture can have on mental health and promote how gardens can be relaxing and rehabilitative spaces, the RHS will also be providing advice and toolkits to NHS organisations and staff.

TV gardener Monty Don said: “I know from personal experience how gardening helps heal mental and physical ills.

“When you are sad a garden comforts. When you are humiliated or defeated a garden consoles.

“When you are consumed by anxiety it will soothe you, and when the world is a dark and bleak place it shines a light to guide you on.”

A Kings Fund report on gardens and health, funded by the National Garden Scheme, found that the mental health benefits of gardening were broad and diverse, with reductions in depression and anxiety and improved social functioning, emotional wellbeing and physical health.

RHS director-general Sue Biggs said: “Gardeners have known about mindfulness for generations and, with increased pressures through things like social media, now more than ever we need to get outside, moving and loving nature to calm us, get exercise and be kind to ourselves.”

Tim Kendall, national clinical director for mental health at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Gardening provides physical exercise and can foster social connections making it an effective way that can potentially help people who are suffering with mental illness, are depressed or stressed.

“This incredible gift by the RHS of this fantastic garden will be an early birthday present for one of our mental health trusts, their patients and staff.”