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Photo shows soil being shoveled by a gardener

Gardens, giving and wellbeing: a partnership in bloom

Michelle Mitchell OBE

This time last week I was cycling through the San Francisco Botanical Gardens during my few hours off before the International Progressive MS Alliance’s scientific congress on addressing the challenges and new horizons in progressive MS.

I’ve left the Californian weather behind, but I’m still feeling sunny as we head towards World MS Day and because we are enjoying a blossoming relationship with the National Garden Scheme. 

Horticulture and health

It was blooming great to be at the King's Fund on Tuesday, not just because they serve a brilliant breakfast, but you are always guaranteed high quality reports, discussion and debate. The event kicked off the National Garden Scheme’s wider campaign to promote the benefits of gardens and gardening for public and individual health and wellbeing.

The launch of the National Garden Scheme’s “Gardens and health: implications for policy and practice” report was no exception. A packed room of health policy experts, politicians, GPs and charity leaders welcomed the report, which is a significant contribution to our understanding of the links between gardens and wellbeing.

We heard from Jane Ellison, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health on the importance of green spaces for promoting health and community cohesion.

George Plumptre, CEO of NGS, spoke of the importance of the “Gardens for Health” scheme in supporting the MS Society and people with MS.

The value of gardening

The report highlights how, at different points in the health and social care system, gardens and gardening can make a strong contribution to keep us well and independent.

The report’s three main aims are:

  • Review the evidence base on the importance of gardening and gardens for wellbeing across the life-cycle from our early years to older years and in a range of settings.
  • Highlight the importance of gardening interventions in the NHS, the wider integrated health and care system and on working with people as citizens within communities rather than just as patients.
  • Make recommendations that gardens and gardening should be a mainstream part of strategic health policy considerations as they can be an important mechanism for reaching local and national health policy goals.

Our blossoming partnership

We are honoured to be a beneficiary of the National Garden Scheme and believe it will have a positive impact on the MS community.

During the NGS’s annual festival weekend on 2-3 June 2018, over 400 gardens across England and Wales will open their gates to raise money for charity and I’m sure many of our supporters will enjoy visiting them. I know I will.