RHS Harlow Carr joins Leeds hospitals for National Gardening Week activities to boost staff wellbeing

Many people have discovered the joys of gardening over the past year, whether growing herbs and pot plants on their balconies or undertaking more ambitious garden makeovers.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 6:00 am

With the long months of 'stay at home' restrictions and limits on meeting indoors, these green spaces have become havens for those lucky enough to have them.

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Now Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the team at the Royal Horticultural Society's Harlow Carr gardens have joined forces to help hard-working hospital staff enjoy the

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Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has teamed up with the Royal Horticultural Society to promote the benefits of gardening. Pictured from left are RHS Harlow Carr horticulturists Susan Main and Joe Lofthouse with intensive care unit nurse and deputy chief clinical information officer Georgie Duncan, clerical officer Kate Davies and radiotherapy advanced practitioner Helen Shepherd.

restorative power of gardening.

As part of the trust’s focus on reset and recovery following the decrease in Covid-19 cases, it is championing the importance of kindness, wellbeing, and self care to ensure staff are

rested, recovered and ready to tackle the next big challenge.

Chief nurse Lisa Grant said: "Our hard-working staff have emerged from perhaps the most testing time in the history of the NHS and it is crucial that everyone has time to

Horticulturist Joe Lofthouse with clerical officer Kate Davies and radiotherapy advanced practitioner Helen Shepherd during their visit to RHS Harlow Carr.

reset and recover.

"We have made the health and wellbeing of our staff a top priority with a range of resources and initiatives across our hospitals."

To mark National Gardening Week (April 26-May 2), the trust and RHS Harlow Carr will be helping staff to make the most of spending time in the garden with a series of tips and videos.

They will also be running a competition offering several members of staff the chance to win tickets for a day out at the gardens in Harrogate.

Horticulturist Joe Lofthouse with Georgie Duncan, an intensive care unit nurse and deputy chief clinical information officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Ms Grant said: "Gardening has been shown to be a highly effective method of reducing stress levels and, with spring in full bloom, now is the perfect time to get back to the garden.

"We are so grateful to RHS Harlow Carr for this opportunity for our staff to learn direct from the experts."

The gardening boom seen last year resulted in households planting 322 million more plants than during 2019.

A study from the RHS and collaborating universities showed simply adding a few plants in a bare front garden could reduce stress levels as effectively as eight weekly mindfulness sessions.

Kate Davies, a clerical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, during a visit to RHS Harlow Carr.

It is for this reason that the focus of this year's National Gardening Week is on finding easy ways to 'Get Your Dose of Vitamin G' by taking a few minutes each day to connect with nature.

Professor Alistair Griffiths, RHS director of science, said: "Vitamin G is 'green' and research has shown that getting a daily dose improves our sense of personal wellbeing.

"Aim to bring green into your daily life as much as possible for maximum benefits. There are dozens of ways to connect with nature, and you don’t even need to have your own garden to get your Vitamin G."

Ideas include taking a mindful moment in your garden or a local green space; bringing the outdoors in with houseplants; growing quick herbs, salad leaves or microgreens on a windowsill; planting up a container to make you smile, or connecting with nature through day-to-day activities such as exercising outside or enjoying an al fresco lunch.

What is the Royal Horticultural Society?

The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood.

Georgie Duncan is an intensive care unit nurse and deputy chief clinical information officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Its vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. This aspiration underpins all of its activities, from inspirational gardens and shows through to scientific research, educational work and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom.

The RHS is fundraising £40m to transform its gardens, outreach and education facilities, which includes redeveloping its flagship RHS Garden Wisley and opening a new garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, in 2021.

It is solely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. Visit www.rhs.org.uk for more information.