Was it inevitable that gardening should become “the” top activity during lock-down?  People who had previously never had time to do something creative with their plot of land before, soon found that it not only provided them with an opportunity to step outside their four walls but suddenly they found it was benefiting them both physically but also mentally.


As early as 1768, there is evidence that Horticultural Therapy had a valuable part to play in supporting the mentally ill through digging in the soil. 1.  So, what is Horticultural Therapy?  The British School of Yoga 2 defines it as ‘a curative form of treatment involving the art and science of growing’.

Gardening has always been popular but perhaps with a somewhat staid reputation. 84% of over 65’s have a garden or allotment. Statistics show that 2/3rd of adults visit garden centres, of which there are now approximately 2,500. The gardening retail market is worth £5 billion – with an average household spending around £150.00 p.a. on their garden which goes a long way to supporting the claims of gardening as the populist hobby.  Remember these figures came before Covid 19 when nursery centres were shut down and people struggled to actually find plants to buy and this in turn forced them to consider growing their own.  The attraction of ‘grow your own’ grew again in momentum.

Putting aside Covid for a moment, the British as a nation of so-called gardeners shows this love in many ways.  What about the National Garden Scheme? 3 A charity created in 1927 that has raised £60 million for other nursing charities like MacMillan nurses through the opening of now over 3,700 private gardens. I know how excited the Hamblin Centre was when we raised over a £1,000 for them, plus the same for the Centre itself.  All by opening the beautiful grounds and the nursery one Sunday afternoon. We are so looking forward to opening all over again on hopefully September 13th.

Another example of the place that gardening holds in the British psyche was the raising of £3.5million to save Prospect Cottage and its iconic garden which was the home of the film director Derek Jarmen.  Art talks about Jarmen’s driftwood sculptures and the ‘remarkable garden he coaxed from shingle … it represents the most complete distillation of his creativity and determination’. 

So, what do the experts feel about the importance of gardening?  Alan Titchmarsh reflects that it feeds ‘the nation’s souls’ and that the garden should be seen as a ‘space to stay safe, reconnect with nature ….. where you are untouched by the troubles of humanity’. For Monte Don, his view  is that ‘the root to happiness right now is to be outside as much as possible and with plants’. Fran Sorin reflects in her blog 4 ‘that gardening has the ability to be a gateway to your soul’.  She continues ‘It can open you up to possibilities, unleash your imagination and playfulness.  Sadly, she also observes how ‘modern man is technology obsessed and increasingly nature deprived’. 

This is a huge issue for 21st century children; many of whom are unaware of the origins of their food thinking that the supermarket serves as the place where fruit and vegetables are created. Tuppenny Barn 5 is a fascinating local charity that has been set up to help address this issue – part of their brief being ‘To cultivate and harvest organic produce, using this to create learning experiences for all ages and to promote the benefits of growing, cooking and eating healthy food. …  teaching children where fruit and vegetables come from, the benefits of eating nutritional food and give them the skills to grow and prepare their own meals’.  Yes of course it is dreadful that it is even necessary. Two books supporting this thirst for knowledge are published by Floris entitled ‘How does my garden grow’ and ‘How does my fruit grow’ both by Gerda Miller for ages 4 – 7.  Frans Sorin reports that in the US teenagers spent less than 7hours per week with nature which is somewhat alarming.

Now to the exciting part!! For all you gardening enthusiasts, these are some of the benefits that you are enjoying by default. Did you know for example that according to the Horticultural Trades Association 6, you can burn of 87 Mars Bars a year by gardening for 1 hour per week undertaking light work like raking and weeding?

These benefits come under two headings – medical or stress busting. 

Medical – regular gardening sees a reduction in strokes and heart disease plus lessening the chance of osteoporosis. Gardening can also strengthen the immune system. But the amazing news is that gardening can reduces the chance of developing dementia by anything up to 47%.

Stress Busting – gardening provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on the beauty of nature, encourages feelings of abundance, gratitude and awe. We have already seen how digging can act as a mood boosting benefit.  Let’s not forget the joy of all the floral perfumes in the garden too.  A final thought courtesy of the Daily Mail 7 who maintain that extended exposure to nature and wild life increases our emotions of compassion and empathy making people more likely to be successful with personal relationship.

Mr. Hamblin’s daughter Joan took her father’s words and added them to normal domestic items - like tiles, door plates and door knobs - celebrating not only his work but also the absolute beauty of nature.


Please see the Pottery page on this website.





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Please see article written June 2001.






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