Over two thirds in East of England say gardening helps their mental health

Over two thirds in East of England say gardening helps their mental health

New research released by Mind shows people in the East of England have benefitted from spending more time in nature since the pandemic. The data coincided with the mental health charity’s garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022, which was designed by nine-time RHS Chelsea gold medal winner, Andy Sturgeon.

A survey of 1,000 people in the UK, conducted by Censuswide  found that over thirds in the East of England (67%) say spending time gardening or in nature helps their mental health, with respondents saying it makes them feel less stressed and that they benefit from taking in the sights, colours and smells of the outdoors . But it’s not just those with gardens who reap the rewards, 44% said looking after houseplants or growing food or plants in window boxes also boosted wellbeing.

The mental health charity also found that nationally, over 7 million say their mental health has benefitted from taking up gardening for the first time since the pandemic.

This came on the first day of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022, where Mind hosted a charity garden for the first time. The Mind Garden was designed by Andy Sturgeon, funded by Project Giving Back and built by Crocus. As the statistics highlight, spending time outdoors and connecting with others can boost mental wellbeing, themes which Andy drew upon for his design. The Mind Garden was designed as a sanctuary for conversation – a circular seating area set within curved lime rendered walls – place to sit side-by-side and share experiences and advice, surrounded by meadow-like spaces and calming birch trees.  A gravel path arced down to a lower level, bringing people together before the garden opened out before them.  In this way, the design reflected how it can feel to open up to others about mental health.

Now that the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is over, the Mind Garden will live on, enabling more people to access ecotherapy – a formal type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature. In addition to financial support from Project Giving Back for its relocation, Dunelm, the UK’s leading homewares retailer, has supported the transportation of the entire garden to a new home at Mind in Furness in Cumbria where it will transform an area of scrubland.

Dunelm have also supported the delivery of plants from the Mind Garden to 15 other local Minds across the country which deliver ecotherapy services, meaning even more people will benefit from the garden’s legacy.

Andy Sturgeon, designer of the Mind Garden, said “I wanted to design a garden for Mind because I’ve always been aware of the benefits of gardens for my mental health, and for other people. I’ve known that for my entire career but it’s only in the last few years that people have begun to talk about it. The Mind Garden includes a series of curved walls and I had the idea that they could come together, like a conversation. It’s a very tactile space. Gardens make people happy, they make people relax, and you can see people behave differently when they are in that environment. In the Mind Garden, I want people to feel embraced. I want people to feel protected when they are in it.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said “We’ve known for some time that physical outdoor activity can help our wellbeing. But this significant new research provides evidence that gardening in particular plays a key role in bringing together a host of things that are good for our mental health. Taking in the sights and colours of the outdoors, nurturing and growing plants and finding space to connect with others can make a world of difference to how we feel. After a challenging couple of years, when many of us have experienced mental health problems for the first time, it’s really encouraging see the nation has drawn on the great outdoors for support. We’re incredibly grateful to Project Giving Back and to Andy Sturgeon for giving Mind the chance to create a garden at the iconic RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022, and to Dunelm for supporting the Mind Garden’s legacy.”

Nick Wilkinson, CEO of Dunelm, said “We’re delighted that Dunelm have been able to support the transportation of the Mind Garden from its original Chelsea home to a new community in Barrow in Furness to provide a dedicated space to help local people escape the pressures of everyday life and focus on their mental wellbeing.”

More information about the garden design and a planting list can be found here: www.andysturgeon.com/chelsea-flower-show-2022/

To find out more about the Mind Garden, including tips on how to connect through nature, visit www.mind.org.uk/chelseaflowershow

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