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ellenor Sows The Seeds For A New Therapy Session

“One of the things we’ve all missed in recent years is the great outdoors, and we’re really hoping that the Green Shoots group will allow us to get back in touch with nature again.  Coming together and using gardening, plants and horticulture can really help people develop personally and socially, whilst also gaining confidence, independence and a sense of wellbeing.  Or it’s just a great opportunity to get your hands dirty! Either way, we can guarantee it will be a lot of fun.” – Andrew Lowden, ellenor Operational Wellbeing Lead.

Spring is the perfect time of year for ellenor to launch a green-fingered therapy which encourages patients and their families to embrace nature.

Horticultural therapist Katie Gardner is now visiting ellenor every week to pass on her love of plants and the natural world around us. The sessions are open to everyone – patients, families, the bereaved and members of the community.

Katie said: “Feeling at one with nature is relaxing and mindful. If you have ever grown an orchid on your windowsill or fed the birds in your garden, you will know how good that feels. So, when you are feeling poorly, stressed or lonely, it is even more important to take some time out to tend to a plant or find out about the little creatures that inhabit our open spaces and the insects which help pollinate our flowers and fruit.”

The Green Shoots sessions will suit all abilities and involve planting bulbs and seeds and taking cuttings, as well as activities like flower pressing and a regular houseplant surgery.

Katie said: “We will be having fun identifying plants and other interesting items brought in from the garden and country walks. In fact, I’m hoping people will treat part of the session a bit like a show and tell, so we can all share thoughts and ideas and each other’s experiences.”

Most of the activities will be indoors so that the class is accessible to all, but there will be some opportunity to explore the hospice garden.

Katie said: “In an ideal world, we would all be outside for large chunks of each day getting fresh air and communicating with the natural world around us. But modern life means this is seldom the norm for most people. And people who are unwell, elderly or caring for a loved one are even less likely to get out and about.


“That’s why it’s even more important to bring nature indoors, especially for people who have been keen gardeners or worked outdoors in the past, or maybe enjoyed long country walks.”

Katie said: “Horticultural therapy aims to improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Therapists like me help people get involved in gardening and the natural world as a way to boost their confidence. We introduce them to new skills and often teach them things they never knew. Plants and nature are fascinating -- and often surprising.”

Katie has more than 10 years’ experience as a jobbing gardener, is RHS trained, and has completed a course with horticultural therapy charity Thrive. She also walks her 10-year-old terrier Doris daily, foraging and taking photos.

She said: “I volunteered a few years ago with ellenor’s old Green Shoots gardening group, and then I went on to hold horticultural therapy classes at two residential homes for the elderly. Of course, the pandemic meant these sorts of sessions had to be abandoned, so I’m very happy that the restrictions have been lifted now and that ellenor’s head of wellbeing Andy Lowden has been able to secure funding for such an important therapy.

“I’m also hoping the upcoming hospice redevelopment plans will include a therapy garden and that I can be part of developing that, along with people who attend the Green Shoots group. The hospice already has a lovely garden but there are plans to create something even more user friendly and kinder to the environment, somewhere where touch and smell is as important as wielding a big spade.”

The Green Shoots therapy sessions are held weekly from 1.30-2.45pm. There is no need to book, and the sessions are open to all.

If you have any plastic pots, small gardening tools or gloves, seeds, bulbs, gardening magazines or compost you would like to donate, please email andrew.lowden@ellenor.org