Thursday, 14 June 2012

Gardening Leave

One of the new gardens listed in Open Squares Weekend is to be found within the grounds of The Royal Hospital at Chelsea. Not originally in my plan, but made a special effort on the Sunday to go and see it on the recommendation of a friend, little did I realise what an emotional visit it would be.

'Gardening Leave' was set up in 2007 to provide horticultural therapy projects for Service and ex-Servicemen and women throughout the UK. A place to find peace and quiet and potter about working over a small piece of ground, to do as much or as little as they wanted, whilst enjoying solace and tranquility in a special place. This project is part of a rehabilitation programme for those who may be suffering from mental affects of combat and/or injured in service.

Entering The Royal Hospital at Chelsea is also significant, it is not open to the public often and it was a real pleasure to walk through the grounds and meet  some of the Pensioners in residence, who are always ready for a chat.

The Gardening Leave area is new and was opened in November 2011, and already it is blooming and fruitful. There is a lovely path of cockle shells, a particular nursey rhyme springs to mind, pretty and great drainage. Not a designed garden but has the feel of a well cared for allotment, that is its charm, it could be anyone's and anywhere, and I am sure those who use it on a regular basis get a lot of pleasure from it and enjoy returning to it time and time again.

I met and spoke to Anna Baker Cresswell (Founder) who was welcoming and so modest about the achievements and potential of this excellent idea. I was really overcome by it all, perhaps because of my link with the Army through my Sergeant Major father, who always said he would like to end up at the Royal Hospital, but sadly did not live to do so, and my young son who is very determined to be an officer in the army once he has completed University.

Should you visit the garden, it will evoke many emotions, but when leaving you cannot help but have a smile on your face, at the pleasure of it, and you hope with all your heart that those that come here will gain peace within it, enjoyment from working in it, and come away with a hope in their heart of recovery and happiness.

Here's hoping that Anna BC and her team will open the garden again soon, so that more people can visit it.

Please read on to hear about my wonderful garden walk through the City.

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