Canal House Clients Make Garden Bloom

Help from Gardening Time makes green oasis at centre

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Clients from a Brentford day centre have transformed a tired and empty space into a flowering oasis. The gardening group at Canal House have used their green fingers to enhance areas of land near to the centre, which is a calm place to socialise for people with mental health issues.

Under the tutelage of project worker Wendy Oakes, clients planted flowers, plants, trees and shrubs in an array of spaces close to the centre.

Now, the garden has been boosted further by the BBC's Gardening Time programme, which answered a plea from Wendy for some help. She was invited to the programme's annual event in Birmingham and was given the opportunity to take away as much as she could manage. The gardening group got to work planting and the results are blooming lovely.

Wendy said: "The gardening group has transformed spaces next to the centre, behind it, planted a greenhouse and window boxes. They have hung wind chimes from trees and that has created an aura of calm outside the building. The clients have had a huge input in the planning and planting of the garden. Many of the vegetables, including tomatoes, beetroot and leeks, have been suggested by clients. Now they are getting even more adventurous and choosing vegetables to reflect their cultural backgrounds. Choices have included sweet potatoes, yams and chillies."

Some clients, who live in apartments, or shared accommodation, do not have access to a garden and therefore they feel a sense of ownership and pride in the communal spaces at Canal House.

One said: "We have seen most of the plants grow from seed. It has been fascinating seeing them grow from nothing to become vegetables, or bloom into flowers. It is hard work keeping it up, but it's worth it."

Gardening has numerous benefits to people with mental health issues. It is a form of therapy, is relaxing, and a continual source of enjoyment as plants grow from seed.

August 24, 2006