Man creates urban oasis for mental health on balcony of 18th floor flat in Manchester

A man who created an urban oasis on the balcony of his 18th floor flat to help with his mental health has become an internet star.

Jason Williams began with just a single marigold but across 18 months turned the tiny space in Manchester into a sprawling high-rise garden.

The balcony now boasts 100 plants, and even has its own mini-pond complete with fish. Jason uses the water as fertiliser so he does not have to buy chemicals.

He has now amassed thousands of followers on social media, all keen to hear his tips and advice for growing flowers and vegetables on a tower block balcony.

Jason moved into his new home just before the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020.

After being furloughed in lockdown he felt his mental health began to deteriorate, and took up gardening to try to help.

And, when he realised there was little advice online about balcony gardening he began to share his journey online, setting up channels on social media platforms offering advice.

Under the name Cloud Gardener UK, Jason posts tips on which plants thrive in urban environments.

He also says it became an outlet for him to express his struggles with mental health.

The 18th floor balcony garden even has its own fish pond Credit: Twitter: @CloudGardenerUK

And Jason's success has led him to becoming an ambassador for Thrive, a charity who help with people's physical and mental health through gardening and horticulture.

Damien Newman, who works for the charity, said: "Gardens themselves are therapeutic spaces, which improve your mood and boosts your wellbeing, this is what people have told us after they've spent time gardening.

"Over 18 million people across the UK garden and so it's probably one of the biggest shared identities we have, and a way to connect with other people and to break down loneliness."

Jason has also been invited to exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May.

He will make his debut in the small balcony and containers category which was brought in in 2021 after the boom in lockdown gardeners.

Jason wants more people to become "urban gardeners" Credit: Jason Williams