Horticultural therapy first for RHS Chelsea as soldiers help plant the roots of recovery

SOLDIERS wounded on active military service and supported by horticultural therapy charity HighGround will reap what they sow next month when they help to create a healing eco therapy garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show for Miracle Gro.

In what is thought to be the first project of its kind at the world’s most famous flower show, a team of current and former patients, volunteers and staff from Armed Forces charity HighGround will spend three days creating Miracle Gro’s ‘Come to your Senses’ garden in the Great Pavilion. Transforming a bare patch of turf into a horticultural haven that will be admired by thousands of visitors, will form part of a therapeutic rehabilitation programme for members of the planting team.

Led by HighGround’s horticultural therapist Carol Sales, all members of the team are beneficiaries of horticultural therapy in differing but powerful ways. Carol said: “Outside space should be seen as a tool to help mental and physical wellbeing; plants and gardening really do have healing powers. We need to be more mindful of how we can ‘self-medicate’ through gardening and our team is looking forward to raising awareness of this at the show.”

HighGround supports serving Armed Forces personnel and veterans by providing therapeutic and employment opportunities using the green environment and the land-based sector. It runs a horticultural therapy service at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey and is the only charity delivering such support to seriously injured members of the Armed Forces as part of their recovery.

The HighGround team will help plant up the ‘Come to your Senses’ garden so, when the show opens, visitors can learn about the therapeutic benefits of horticulture for people of all ages. “Creating a show garden offers all sorts of positive therapeutic challenges such as hand to eye coordination, standing tolerance and balance. There’s also the sensory elements as many of the plants will have wonderful scent, lovely textures and vibrant colours. The patients are really relishing the opportunity to take part,” added Carol.

Miracle Gro has been a long-standing supporter of HighGround’s work at Headley Court.  Anna Baker Cresswell, the charity’s founder said, “Miracle Gro’s loyal and generous support has helped us deliver more than 4,000 treatment sessions to over 1,100 patients, and the opportunity to help the company spread the message of horticultural therapy through its garden was too good to miss. As we fight to raise the funds to ensure the horticultural therapy service will continue once Headley Court moves to its new home in the Midlands in 2018, we salute our wonderful friends at Miracle Gro.”


For further information please contact Anna anna@highground-uk.org or 07951 495272.

Notes to Editor:

In 2018 Headley Court is closing and the DMRC’s services will transfer to the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall in Nottinghamshire. HighGround needs to raise £350,000 to finance its work over the next three years including the move to Stanford Hall.

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