The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.
This year’s Gardens and Health Week is all about the positive impact garden visiting can have on your mental wellbeing and their campaign, Open the garden gate to wellbeing, encourages people to visit a private garden as an act of self-care.
Luckily, we know someone who is part of the National Garden Scheme. Clare invited the Feel Good Ambassadors and Self Care Socialities (as she likes to call us) over to her award-winning garden in Kenilworth. It seemed a perfect fit for Self Care Social and the Feel Good Ambassadors so we jumped at the chance to plan a road trip!
A recipe for a good day
At our last Self Care Social meet up we discussed what a good day in Clare’s garden would look like. The team came up with some fabulous ideas: a writing challenge, a treasure hunt, mindful doodling, meditation, taking photos, reading and of course simply walking around the garden taking it all in. Like all our events freshly baked cakes were high on the list of things that would help the day to go well!
Before I had arrived back home two new emails had landed in my inbox. The extremely talented Andrea had created a mindful treasure hunt and poetry activity rolled into one! And Frank, one of our newest Self Care Socialities sent the most beautiful words about his experience at the Self Care Social meetup.
I got a lot from the (Self Care Social) meetup because it was the first time I have been involved in such an expansive group looking for answers to social inclusion. I left the day feeling upbeat!
Relax and mingle with nature, friends and cake!
Reflecting on the afternoon spent in Clare’s garden it definitely had all the ingredients for a perfect day. Lots of people, 24 in fact, some already friends whilst lots of new people added to the mix and a range of ages.
Plenty of cake including Jay’s legendary banana bread, Andrew’s courgette and lime delight, butterfly cakes and beautiful berry muffins supplied by Jenny’s mum. We sipped freshly brewed tea served on the patio whilst people chatted about what helps them to relax and unwind.
People interacted with the creative activities – we even managed to write a collaborative poem inspired by the National Garden Scheme’s campaign:
‘Open The Garden Gate To Wellbeing’
On this day, in this garden
I am a darting dragonfly.
The pebbles crunching beneath people’s feet
Take me to a beach somewhere
These days are like slow snails
This garden relaxes me
I taste the cake, the sugar is so sweet.
Clare was an expert hostess, taking us on an exploration of our senses as we meandered around her garden. We found many different textures, sounds, smells and things to look at. We marvelled at how soft and teddy bear like the leaves were on the Stachys byzantina, aka Lambs Ear. The lavender flowers sparked conversations – we shared our tips and Michelle whipped her favourite self-care product out of her bag for us all to have a sample – Lush’s Sleepy cream
I think everyone who came would agree that we did find wellbeing when we opened the gate to Care’s garden and a few new friends!
Pete and Nasim from the Coventry resource centre for the blind shared their thoughts on their experience. This is the first time I have used a voice recorder and uploaded it to Youtube! Pretty impressed with the results, what do you think?
Gardens in health week finishes on Friday 24th August 2018. take the opportunity to spend some time in a garden, either by yourself or with a friend. If you don’t have a garden of your own the NGS have suggested a few to visit. Check out their post.
Or come along to the next Self Care Social on Thursday, September 27th at Coventry University Enterprise Hub – 5.30-7.30pm
Emily Hodge, health psychology specialist, coach and therapist, writes about why garden visiting is good for mental wellbeing, and for some tips on making the most of your visit over on the NGS website
Take a moment
Using people’s captured moments I made this short film, sit back and relax- 1 min 40 secs.
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Thanks for reading! Melissa