Friday, February 19, 2010

Therapeutic Gardens Update

It is interesting that I am so tired; I spent the day in London yesterday at a seminar. Admittedly it was pouring with rain and not an ideal day to be out and about. But the tiredness comes more from sitting in a room all day and not getting out and about in the countryside that I so take for granted. I know that I talk and believe in the importance of our environment and gardens, but I tend to forget just how much cities can drain our energy, particularly on grey, low light days such as we are experiencing now. It makes that view out of the window even more important.

I was attending a seminar the RHS were giving about exhibiting at the Hampton Court Flower Show in July where we hope to be showing the Combat Stress therapeutic garden. We have been asked to fine tune our design - so you will see some updated drawings on this page soon. We have also managed, with the assistance of the nimble fingers of the Combat Stress fundraising team, to create a page so that any donations given for this garden will attract Gift Aid (fingers crossed!). You can view the page - and make a donation (please please please) on Please if you know any organisation or person who might be willing to support this fantastic concept do let them know about the page. You can email me with any questions/ideas you may have. It is all very gratefully received!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The view from the window

I was out visiting some old friends of mine today; old in terms of knowing them, but young at heart. They are avid gardeners and they asked me about Independent Gardening and why I had set up the company. As I talked to them about why I was so passionate about the importance of gardens and their impact on us, there was a slight pause in the conversation. 'When I am bed bound' she said, 'I am going to be surrounded by windows so I can look out all over my garden'. And that in a nutshell is why I feel this company is so important. Someone has to stand alongside the occupational therapists, the families of those injured, and those people, qualified or not who care, and say ' what we look out on is as important as how we are looked after'. When the view from your window is a concrete wall you might as well be in a prison. Being imprisoned in your mind through brain injury is a 'hell' I hope you and I don't have to go through. But for those who are, they deserve something better than to be surrounded by machinery, walls, curtains and hushed voices. The view from their windows is as important as the touch of someone who cares. The play of light and shadow across the trees, or the movement of clouds in a sky provides a scene of variety and life to those wheelchair or bedbound that those of us who are more mobile and 'cognitive' don't always appreciate, because after all, we are often too busy to stop and notice. Giving people a view from their window is not difficult, nor is it expensive. It is a case of seeing what is possible, and making it happen. And that is why this work is so so important.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Combating Stress

After a day like today; driving all over the place, caught behind tractors (makes a change from traffic jams) and generally getting frustrated at the pace of things, or rather lack of it, it is wonderful to come back to the office and speak to people who are so incredibly 'pro' what we are trying to achieve with the show garden for Combat Stress.

I have uploaded an image of what the Combat Stress therapeutic garden at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will look like - only it will be better! Our suppliers, and I know that Sean Farrell from Mobilane (who are supplying the fantastic ivy screen/walls that provide part of the garden boundaries) will not mind me mentioning him, are a constant source of inspiration. His energy and enthusiasm for this project is boundless. We are determined that this project happens. Our service men and women deserve the best that we can do for them - not only out on the ground, but here back at home. As do our really unsung heroes - the families, wives, partners, parents and children who support them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Interesting times!

I sometimes wonder why I do this work, and then I meet people or read what they have written and I know why.

Clare's poem, featured on our pages on our website, makes me smile every time I read it. The fact that she wrote it tells me more than anything about the difference that the work we did in her garden made. She has huge windows from her bedroom that overlook the ever-changing scape of her garden. I hope, that with her permission, we may show you some more of what her garden 'does' over the years. It is a credit to her determination, her wonderful mother's vision and the fantastic people who assist Clare in leading a life that has a huge amount of meaning. She is a seriously inspirational lady.

On the other side of the coin, is the work we are doing on the Hampton Court Palace garden for Combat Stress. We are hoping to obtain additional sponsorship. Our fantastic suppliers have already come up with the goods, but we need more assistance to make this garden a reality, both at Hampton Court and at Tyrwhitt House, the headquarters of Combat Stress. Then I see an article written by a British squaddie in Afghanistan, which is take on Rudyard Kipling's 1895 poem 'The British Soldier'. And I know why I do this work. I know what the fallout from PTSD and Combat Stress looks like, and both Fi Boyle (the designer of the garden) and myself are going to do our utmost to ensure that those that come back from active service get the best assistance possible. If you have any ideas about who we can approach or how we can get further financial assistance please let me know.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Welcome to our new blog

I have been inspired to launch this blog due to our increased work load in the field of brain and neural injury/disabilities. What started off as a 'one-off' garden design job for a client has become something of a mission. So much so that I find myself starting a new company called Independent Gardening Ltd (IG), with a new soon to be completed website. Between IG and its sister company Down to Earth I hope to be able to design and build a variety of different gardens (small and large). The aim of this blog is to encapsulate what we are doing, what we've learned and cover new projects. I also hope to be able to make a difference; to inform and promote discussion about the importance of our gardens and our immediate surroundings, and the views through our windows to our emotional, physical and mental health.

I am especially happy to be able to bring my experience and knowledge of garden creation and maintenance to this specialised and worthwhile field. The media has ensured public recognition of the complex range of problems faced by our injured soldiers, helped by charities such as Combat Stress and Help for Heroes. But perhaps less well-appreciated in this country is the enormous part gardens and gardening can play in the long rehabilitation journey. I look forward to sharing with you the challenges and triumphs of this work – with some photos if the rain ever stops pouring!