A Visit to Helmsley Walled Garden

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Last week I visited the horticultural therapy program at  Helmsley Walled Garden in North Yorkshire. Helmsley is set within the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and approximately 15 miles east of Thirsk.

The walled garden once served as the kitchen garden for the Duncombe Estate. The original kitchen garden was closer to the River Rye but after being flooded out was re-located to it’s current position. The garden was eventually abandoned in 1984 before the restoration began 10 years later to bring the garden back to life. At the same time Alison Ticehurst felt that the garden should be utilised for benefiting the local community and a healing garden and horticultural therapy project was pursued. In 2014, the garden celebrates its 20 year anniversary.

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The horticultural therapy service uses the term ‘Supported Volunteer’ to describe people accessing its sessions. There are currently 20 Supported Volunteers and approximately 100 volunteers helping to run and maintain the garden. The Supported Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the garden, with particular focus on the production and sale of plants to the general public. It is not a service for a specific disability or condition, all are welcome.

Helmsley Walled Garden does not charge for the service it provides for Supported Volunteers. The cost is covered by plant sales, entry to the garden (currently £5.50 for adults) and the on-site café. The service employs three part-time horticultural therapists and is run year round, with reduced hours over the winter months.

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On a personal level, I would dare to argue that such a great service which is open to a variety of people and in a fantastic settings should receive direct payment in line with other day services. I appreciate that is by no means as easy as writing that sentence. There are all the legal ramifications and obtaining ‘preferred supplier’ status with the local care authorities but I would be surprised if it does not offer a service in line with other services provided in the area.

The manager highlighted a major concern for the future was that rural public transport is being considerably affected by the government spending cuts, which has reduced services in the area. In the long term, this may hamper Supported Volunteers from being able to just get to the garden.

The garden is open to the public from April 2014 and I thoroughly recommend a visit, if only to admire the long perennial borders and large array of trained fruit trees. There is of course a lot more to offer from a horticultural point of view, including the Victorian glasshouses, but you will be able to feel fulfilment that your entry fee and any subsequent spend it going to help run and worthwhile and excellent service for people in the local community.

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For more information on Helmsley Walled Garden, its Horticultural Therapy Program and visiting the garden please visit: http://www.helmsleywalledgarden.org.uk/

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Kingwood Trust Autism Research

Green Spaces – Outdoor Environments for People with Autism

I intended to post this ages ago, but then wanted to read through it and it sort of got lost amongst other things but I have finally got round to what is a really useful piece of work. It obviously is aimed at people with autism but it stimulates thought about the things that should be considered when working with all groups of people outdoors. I found that the format flowed really well too.

It is free to download from the Kingwood Trust website along with their other research on environments and working with people with autism and Aspergers syndrome.

http://www.kingwood.org.uk/printable-documents-research

Greening Dementia

Natural England have produced a literature review of the benefits and barriers facing individuals living with dementia in accessing the natural environment

As part of Natural Englands ‘Outdoors for All’ programme the aim of the report is to form to address the identified barriers and enable people with dementia to access nature and reep the benefits.

The report can be downloaded for free from the Natural England website: http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/6578292471627776

ASTHP Conference ‘Outcomes and Impact’

On the 1st of November 2013, the Association for Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioners hosted their second annual conference at Askham Bryan College in York. The focus of the conference was on ‘Outcomes and Impact’ and included presentations from Sharon Heaney from Coventry University, Joe Sempik from the University of Nottingham, John Cliff: CEO at Growing People and Sally Kelly from the Guild Social Economy Services CIC.

I will aim to give a brief run down of the presentations in the not too distant future but I do wish to state that it was impeccably organised and very interesting and provided me with lots to think about an ideas for my current practice.

More information about ASTHP can be found here: http://asthp.org.uk/

You can support the work of ASTHP by becoming a member for only £10 per annum.

Therapeutic Horticulture: Philosophy, Theory and Practice

On Wednesday July the 10th at Ashmoleam Museum, Oxford a workshop is being held by Dr. Dan O’Brien on therapeutic horticulture.

I have been kindly invited to speak alongside Dan O’Brien and Joe Sempik. My presentation will be about the practice of therapeutic horticulture in a health care setting.

The event is free and open to everyone who wishes to attend. Tea, coffee and biscuits are even provided.

For more information on the workshop and the agenda please visit the website: https://sites.google.com/site/therapeutichorticulture/home

Croxteth Hall Walled Kitchen Garden

Ok, so not strictly horticultural therapy, but I had to write something about a recent visit to Croxteth Hall Walled Kitchen Garden in Liverpoool.

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It is not just another walled kitchen garden, and I cannot get enough of these anyway, but a vast and significant Victorian one with many fruit trees over a century old. Many of which are trained in the traditional espalier and cordon styles as well as some inventive shapes and arches. The well preserved glasshouses and heated ripening walls (with their smoking chimneys) are worth the admission fee alone.

The garden is run by Liverpool council and costs a very nice £2.50 entry for an adult and I thoroughly recommend a visit.

http://www.croxteth.co.uk/attractions/garden/

Helmsley Walled Garden – Yorkshire

A great walled garden in the heart of beautiful Yorkshire countryside (I would say that being from Yorkshire myself!). Not only does it look great but it is run by the local community and offers a horticultural therapy service.

It is definitely worth a visit whether you are interested in horticultural therapy or not. However, save space for lunch at the vegetarian vine-house cafe where they use ingredients grown in the garden.

There is a small admission charge.

More about the garden and it’s horticultural therapy programme can be found here: http://www.helmsleywalledgarden.org.uk/horticultural-therapy/