National Gardening Week 2023: Creating social connections through communal gardening

12 May 2023

To celebrate National Gardening Week, several of our schemes took part in some communal gardening, creating new social connections and transforming their wellbeing and environment for the better.

Frome residents enjoy a blooming marvellous day of gardening

Residents and staff at Phoenix House and Phoenix  Court, an Independent Living housing scheme in Frome, welcomed the Mayor of Frome Cllr Sara Butler, as well as friends and family, for a fun-filled day of communal gardening.

Plants and flowers, including Honeysuckle and a Buddleia, were planted in the communal garden to encourage wildlife to the area. A vegetable and salad patch were also planted, and residents will be able to help themselves to a variety of produce, including lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers as they grow.

On the day, miniature plum, cherry, apple, and pear fruit trees were planted, and the residents are now looking at ways to make an existing small pond at the scheme a more habitable environment for frogs, and other aquatic animals.

The gardening day was funded by our Community Health and Wellbeing Fund – an annual funding scheme for our Independent Living Service, supporting projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of residents.

Deborah Mullins, Independent Living Advisor, said: “I would like to thank everyone who came along to support the gardening day, and who gave up their time to help with the planting. Days like these really bring people together, and the fruit and vegetables we are able to grow will mean residents have access to fresh, healthy produce.”

Elizabeth, Phoenix House resident, said: “Working together to get the garden looking good makes us all happy, including the bugs.”

Residents in Sheffield get planting

Residents at Independent Living schemes in Loxley Court and Northfield Close received free potato growing kits from us, making welcome additions to their already thriving gardens.

David, a resident at Loxley Court, said: “This year I will also have peas, rhubarb, pears – and hopefully apples too as the tree has flowered for the first time.”

Selinah who lives at Northfield Close is the lead for potato planting and other growing projects in the communal garden. She has been supported by 12 of her neighbours and has also planted lettuce seeds, a courgette, and a sunflower.

She said: “I mostly want to grow things that we can eat and share. Not everyone can manage to work on the ground, but they have a lot of knowledge and can advise me on what to do. It is nice that we can all work together.”

Michelle Williams, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, said: “Gardening is great for mental as well as physical wellbeing – bringing people together to enjoy their handiwork while enjoying nature at the same time.

“Our gardening days sow the seeds for continued wellbeing as people enjoy nature together in the days ahead.”

Also in Sheffield, three Gilbert Court residents took part in some planting alongside Independent Living Advisor Gill Dyal. The group of four, with a combined age of 308, spent two hours brightening up their environment.

Wildflower gardens and hanging baskets

Across National Gardening Week, other Guinness schemes also got involved. At Fitzwilliam Court in Barnsley, residents headed to a garden centre to get supplies to create beautiful hanging baskets to brighten up the scheme.

Whilst residents at Marlborough Court, Chester enjoyed creating their own wildflower garden.

Karen Smith, Independent Living Advisor, said, “We had great fun this morning starting to create our wildflower garden at Marlborough Court before the heavens opened. Wildflower seeds have been sowed along with perennials.

“Further heather and alpine plants will be planted too in the next few months. We have swept and raked and sowed and planted. Hopefully, the plants will spread and make the garden look nice and attract wildlife.”

This spring, our Community Health and Wellbeing Fund is supporting 20 sites around the country with gardening vouchers. A further 20 sites will receive a ‘grow your own’ kit. The sites will host community planting days to promote ‘pollinator friendly’ planting and food growing and sharing.

Run by the National Horticultural Society, National Gardening Week runs from 1-7 May. You can find out more about it at their website