Staff Wellbeing Gardening Group

We’ve delivered two Staff Wellbeing Gardening Group sessions to date, and we can’t wait for the next one. 

Staff Wellbeing is an essential part of Healthcare Delivery. We are keen to develop the outdoor spaces with and for staff, in order it can benefit staff on a day to day basis; helping to support their own health and wellbeing and how this can filter down to patients.

Staff Wellbeing Gardening Group Session 1 – Wildlife & Seeds

We introduced the group to the concept of the garden, showing them the different planting schemes within  the garden, familiariing the group with certain plants and explaining how the garden would develop and grow.

Our planting element of the session was around wildlife in the garden. As a group we planted up the wildlife focused area, providing plants that would complement the already established Lyme tree, which attracts bees. The idea behind the choice of plants is to extend the range of wildlife into the garden and to provide colour and beneficial plants through the seasons.

Our horticulture therapy activity involved making paper folded pots, and sowing a range of flower seeds to use in the garden in June. The group also took some away for their own garden or window ledge.

Grounds Works
Finishing shot of the Staff Wellbeing Gardening Group with seed trays of potted flowers in newspaper pots

Staff Wellbeing Gardening Group Session 2 – Sound & Feeding Birds

It was such a rainy and windy day in the garden, that it was a real challenge to explain the session events, never mind attempt to dig the very soggy ground.

The session was focussed on the element of sound in the garden. Most people are aware of the visual importance of a garden, but don’t often think about the element of sound and it’s value as a therapeutic tool.  In fact, most people, when they think about sound in a garden, think about wind and it’s destructive capabilities. A gentle summer breeze, however, is refreshing and soothing. Sound adds a lot to the garden, a depth we often neglect.

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Despite the downpour, the staff wellbeing gardening group get stuck into placing and then planting 15 plants for the wind planting scheme

To create sound we are often looking for plants that create movement. The associated sounds include the rustling of grasses, rattling of seed pods, and rasping and creeking of tree branches. Each plant demostrates a variety of sounds with the variable wind, creating a whole array of mood changes within the garden setting.

Movement is associated with vitality, energy and life. If we are to create a setting that revitalises staff, so they can enjoy there daily work and feel a greater sense of satisfaction, health and wellbeing, the wind garden is a vital component. It is also important if we are to look at ways to use planted spaces to encourage patient motivation to engage in rehabilitation and recovery, an element we are focused on in the Indoor Courtyard design.

Plants that best catch the wind are also excellent reflectors of light, so movement also brings light into the garden. Seed heads, such as with cornflowers and honesty, pop out of the garden and reflect light all around.

On calmer, less windy days, we can still appreciate sound. Softer sounds, those that create a constant rythum, are often created through the various forms of wildlife enticed into the garden: buzzing of bumblebees, tinkling of butterflies landing on nectar-rich flowers and songs of the birds as they go about their daily activities.

Sound, movement and light in the garden, also help to demonstrate the changing seasons. Trees shed their leaves and trees creek in Autumn, where birds chirp and grasses sway and swoosh in summer. The constant cycle of sounds throughout the year, help to embed our joy for change and help us to anticipate whats ahead.

The sense of being surrounded by a diverse environment, particularly in the presence of wildlife, leads us to a sense that there is biodiversity. I can’t help feeling creates an innate feeling of satisfaction and wellbeing, with the subconscious knowing that we are surrounded by health and abundance.

In this way, our horticulture therapy activity created some bird feeders to go on the newly erected bird house to encourage bird song and activity in the garden.  We coated pine cones in peanut butter and dipped them in seeds and strung these with sliced apples. Hopefully the lovely blackbird that regularly talks to us and inspects what we have been doing will be happy with our offerings.

 

We have such a lovely group established, with a real understanding of the importance of the space and of these spaces for wellbeing across the hospital.

All we need now are more participants, so please share what we are doing far and wide across the hospital.

~ Beth Morgan, Project Coordinator

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