Blossoming Britain: how gardening helps us to grow

  • Watch the first part of our series: ‘Blossoming Britain: Gardening for Health’.

It’s National Gardening Week and we’ve been looking at why you might want to get outside and do some planting.

  • Health

As well as making your garden look good, it can have many other benefits for you and your family.

One of the main benefits of gardening is the impact it can have on your health and wellbeing.

Some GPs are now even referring patients to allotments, a practice known as ‘social prescribing’.

It can help improve physical fitness and mobility, as well as helping with mental health.

In fact, just being in a garden and enjoying the surroundings can make a difference.

Horatio’s Garden was set up at a specialist spinal treatment centre several years ago.

It is used by patients who have been admitted with life-changing injuries and conditions.

“The initial ideas were to create a beautiful space. We hadn’t anticipated all of the knock-on effects” said Dr Olivia Chapple, the co-founder of Horatio’s Garden.

She explains that the garden has helped patients with their physical rehabilitation – giving them somewhere to exercise and practice wheelchair skills.

It has also helped them psychologically, improving mood and improving sleep which, in turn, has helped them come to terms with what has happened to them.

Margaret Kievel is one of the patients who has benefited from the garden: “When you come out here, you don’t actually feel like you’re in a hospital. It’s the colours; it’s the birds; it’s just the tranquility of everything."

Even if you’re in good health, you can still feel the benefits of gardening.

TV gardener David Domoney has been telling us how it can help you physically and emotionally, even preventing future problems.

  • We speak to TV gardener David Domoney

  • Education

Gardens and outside spaces can also be hugely beneficial in education. At one time, pupils spent most of their day in a classroom, with the school grounds reserved solely for break-time or PE lessons.

Now an increasing number of schools are embracing outdoor learning.Some of them offer lessons in horticulture as well as gardening clubs.

There are even schools regularly using their gardens to teach core subjects including English, Maths and Science.

Emma Schofield, an Outdoor Learning Leader in a primary school, explains: “It has a huge impact, not just on the academic side of things, but on the wellbeing of the children and the staff.”

There are calls for secondary schools to do more outdoor learning too. Patrick Kirwan is a science teacher who helped create gardens and an allotment in his school.

It’s used for horticulture lessons, benefiting pupils from all year groups. He told us: “I think there is a clear impact on morale in the school, among the staff and among the students. I think actually if a secondary school isn’t operating some kind of gardening activity, it’s a missed opportunity”.

  • WATCH: Part 2 in our series below

Your children don't have to be at school to benefit from outdoor learning.

We’ve been speaking to TV gardener David Domoney to find out what you can do in your own back garden.

  • Environment

As well as being good for us, gardening can be good for the environment.

One gardening group is making use of old plastic bottles by building a greenhouse. It is in a public park and the aim is to raise awareness of plastic waste and encourage people to reuse and recycle.

Mark Richardson, who helps to manage the park, explained: "If just one person thinks about their plastic use and does some more recycling, uses the bottles for other projects, that can only be a good thing."

One gardening group is making use of old plastic bottles by building a greenhouse Credit: ITV
This year, people are being urged to build a pond Credit: ITV

They have also been trying to encourage wildlife in the park by planting wild flowers and creating bug hotels. It ties in with the 'Wild About Gardening' project which encourages people to use their gardens to support nature.

This year, people are being urged to build a pond. Helen Bostock from the Royal Horticultural Society said: "We've lost something like a million ponds across the UK in the last century, that's three-quarters of the ponds that we would have had. So anything we can do to put some of those back - it's going to be perhaps the best thing you can do for wildlife."

  • WATCH: Part 3 in our series below

TV gardener David Domeney was with Lauren. He's been sharing his top tips for encouraging wildlife into our gardens and how to help hedgehogs, insects and birds.