For many of us the rapidly changing pandemic landscape has unsurprisingly led to increased anxiety. Daily routines can change at very short notice as the Government introduces new restrictions with no timescales for things getting back to normal. For Chris, and other people living with autism, these uncertainties can be even more overwhelming.
Working one-to-one with Chris at home enables him to focus on something positive within an environment that he feels comfortable and safe. Each session is part of a personalised Garden to Wellbeing programme designed to reduce anxiety, create a sense of personal achievement and help him to feel happy and hopeful about the future.
Chris has planned his own wellbeing garden and we’ll be working together to create it over the coming months. He’s already made a bug hotel and planter, and we’ll be supporting him to grow the flowers, herbs and vegetables in his design.
We love reusing wood to create new growing containers so when Chris chose to build a planter for this Garden to Wellbeing activity session we were delighted.
Handmade from reclaimed pallets, Chris measured, sanded and hammered his way to producing this beautiful oak planter and he’s proud as punch.
Building the planter enabled Chris to develop his woodworking skills as well as look forward to finishing a multi-day project.
The activity has inspired Chris to want to develop his own garden space where he can grow flowers, vegetables and herbs. He’s not short of ideas for the design and we’ll be sharing our progress with you in the coming weeks.
A new luxury hotel with ‘all the creature comforts’ has opened up to quite a fanfare. The three story Travel Bug Lodge includes a penthouse suite and pine cone, stick and sunflower themed rooms. Constructed from dismantled pallet boxes, natural materials and a creative vision, several spiders have already been seen moving in.
Garden to Wellbeing Champion Chris loves working with wood and used a range of tools to construct the hotel, including a saw, hammer, sander and drill. He designed the layout and collected some natural materials to complete the job.
This activity worked on:
decision making skills
safe tool use
relaxation and fun
“Thank you Garden to Wellbeing! Chris absolutely loved building the bug hotel with you and will get so much pleasure looking at it in the garden. It made me feel so happy and proud to see him following your instructions and being so confident using the tools.” Kim, mum
I’d like to introduce you to our new Garden to Wellbeing Champion, Chris.
23 year old Chris loves the outdoors and spends as much time as he can in and around nature. As someone who lives with autism he finds some settings overwhelming, so gardens provide a quiet, restorative space where he can relax and have fun.
We’ve got lots of exciting activities planned with Chris and as our new Garden to Wellbeing Champion he’ll be letting us (and you) know what he thinks of them.
For our first project we’ll be building a brand new bug hotel for his garden so keep your eyes peeled for updates.
I was interviewed by Naomi Kent on BBC Radio Leicester to talk about the mental health benefits of gardening, the challenges of lockdown and what inspired me to start my own social enterprise Garden to Wellbeing.
Today I donated my homegrown veg to The Hope Centre in Derby whose services support people in crisis, including young people, the elderly, low income families, children, single parents, refugees and asylum seekers. The veg will feed families hardest hit by the pandemic. As World Wellbeing Week comes to an end, it’s important to make sure that we continue to look after each other – physically, socially and mentally.
Gardening doesn’t need to be complicated and it’s easy to get carried away buying tools and gadgets that we don’t really need. But it’s not about creating a picture perfect garden. It’s about getting muddy and having a go – seeing if stuff grows.
The current pandemic has certainly encouraged me to get my thinking cap on and I’m finding all sorts of imaginative new ways of doing things. For me, one of the nicest things about gardening is that it doesn’t judge you. If you make a mistake, you can just try something different. It’s made me more resilient because, just like every day life, things don’t always go to plan. My carrots are sometimes weedy and my onions won’t win any prizes, but that gives me even more cause to celebrate when people compliment me for the sauces I make using the tomatoes I grow.
I love working with new client gardeners. Their apprehension gives way to laughter and smiles as their confidence grows. That amazing feeling they get when they pull a potato out from the ground? That’s pride.
So I won’t just show you my successes – I’ll show you when things don’t go quite so well so you can laugh about it too.
This is my very first post for my new venture – Garden to Wellbeing. I came up with the idea after training to be a social and therapeutic horticulture practitioner and thought it would be brilliant to help organisations set up therapeutic gardening programmes within their own grounds.
Maybe you’re a company with a bit of outdoor space that you’d like to turn into a small garden to help reduce stress in the workplace? Perhaps you’re a women’s refuge that would like to grow vegetables to help foster a sense of belonging and community? Or you might know about the general health benefits of gardening but aren’t quite sure where it fits into your organisation. Either way, I can help.