Over the last few months, Jo Malone London has been working with St Mungo’s Broadway to create a gorgeous new garden in the heart of the city, so Lauren Morris went along to find out more
Over the past few months for me, gardening has truly begun. From happy trips to the garden centre, digging around for seed packets from last year’s crops, to plunging my green fingers into sweet-smelling soil; the gardening season has definitely burst into full bloom. As a fair-weather gardener, I have truly been enjoying owning my first patch of earth, honing it under my somewhat naive and amateur hands and adoring every moment of the experience.
Flicking through my gardening diary, it seems June is an important month to look to your garden. Taking care of any carrot fly and removing any dead foliage from spring flowering bulbs, as well as sowing my purple sprouting and beautiful candytuft and Canterbury bell seeds means I have lots to take care of. But it isn’t just the garden that is looked after through these actions. I always like to remember that nurturing your garden can in fact enrich and improve your own wellbeing. The importance of gardening to your own welfare has long been scientifically verified and this has been echoed in a recent rise in gardening over the past few years, in part due to the economic downturn. We are spending more money than ever on our perennials and we are reaping the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Whether you have access to a back garden, allotment, window box or container; gardening is aiding many people up and down the country.
For the good people at the Creative Studio at Jo Malone London, however, gardening isn’t just about the digging and the pruning. They have taken inspiration from the common garden and created an initiative in partnership with St Mungo’s Broadway, a charity that helps people to recover from the issues that may create homelessness. Together, they have created The Castle Park Physic Garden, right at the heart of Bristol, with the aim of teaching people from vulnerable backgrounds how to build and maintain beautiful, scented gardens.
Closing my eyes and imagining all that Jo Malone London has to offer, a heavenly scent envelops my senses giving me a sense of tranquility and hope, and this is exactly what the Physic Garden hopes to do for vulnerable communities. Rachel Baker, general manager vice president of Jo Malone London explains the reason behind this beautiful initiative: “As a team we searched long and hard for a cause that reflected our sensibilities, reinforced our British heritage and generally made sense for us. Gardens seemed the perfect fit.”
As a constant source of inspiration for their fragrances, gardens have been proven to be good for the soul and these divinely scented havens are changing the lives of those involved. With gardens already prominent in London, Edinburgh, Liverpool and New York, Bristol will be the latest city to roll up its sleeves and get digging to make a happy and beautiful sanctuary.
To show us the way is Emma Coleman, a successful local garden designer who found her calling after spending a summer in her family garden and allotment. In a relatively short period of time Emma has undertaken a large variety of projects including the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and a redesign of an 18th century farmhouse garden. She believes that gardening is incredibly good for the mind and body, and is for absolutely everyone: “Gardening is totally indiscriminative, enabling people with physical or mental disabilities and those with little or no experience to learn and get involved.”
Those working on the garden will gain horticultural qualifications, to help them find long-term employment in the future. Through this project, life-affirming realisations have happened and many trainees leave the program with a restored outlook on life. Mark, from St Mungo’s Broadway, explained: “Working in the garden has given me new confidence and changed my outlook. It’s helped me to imagine the future.” Gardening is renowned for its therapeutic benefits and this project not only works on building the trainees’ qualifications to bring them back into employment, but it also provides a solid standing for their new lives to begin.
As each flower blooms under the watchful eye of each participant, so does the opportunity of gaining new skills and new confidence. The aim of these gardens is to spread joy and allow for hope to flower even in the darkest of moments, while also beautifying public green spaces.