Therapeutic Horticulture

Helmsley Walled Garden is a small, independent charity, run by a dedicated group of volunteer trustees and managed by a team of just four permanent staff.  We aim to enhance the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of everyone who uses the garden. Our emphasis on therapeutic horticulture is central to our way of working.

What is therapeutic horticulture?

Therapeutic horticulture is quite simply the engagement of individuals with horticultural activity to improve their physical and mental health and well being.  Gardening is good for us and the range of different activities present in this 5 acre walled garden ensure we can benefit people physically, emotionally, cognitively and, through working with others, give our volunteers a sense of productivity and belonging.

Over the Garden Gate

Over the Garden Gate is our programme of mentored volunteering – with such a small team we depend on the help of volunteers to support individuals who need a bit of help to experience equal benefit from their involvement with the garden.  This may be that they are lacking in gardening knowledge or have a physical problem such as reduced mobility or learning difficulties.  They may be suffering from chronic depression, anxiety or a lack of confidence.  Gardening is increasingly recognised as an activity bringing real benefit  to people in these situations. By pairing volunteers with a mentor, we can ensure that everyone is working productively and to the best of their ability.

Heather Thomas – our volunteer coordinator – oversees our volunteering groups, not only making sure that the garden is being appropriately cared for but, even more so, making sure that our volunteers are working appropriately, comfortably and productively ensuring they get the most out of their volunteering.  We tend our volunteers, just as they tend the garden, ensuring they have the right conditions to learn and grow together, developing individuals as they develop this beautiful space.

Volunteers are involved in the planning and development of the garden, giving a sense of belonging and security, regularly learning new skills and making new friends.  The beauty of gardening is that there is always a task to do, irrespective of an individual’s knowledge, background or ability and the fact that Helmsley is visited by so many, every single task contributes to enhance the garden and thereby enhance the visitor experience.

More about ‘A Therapeutic Garden..’

Our volunteer Stories

Sues’s story

'Helmsley Walled Garden has given me the opportunity to get involved with a community of like minded folk, which I haven't felt able to do for years and I'm 'chuffed to bits'!!' Sue, garden volunteer

Sarah’s story

Volunteering at Helmsley Walled Garden was something that I had wanted to do for several years.  This worked out last year and I started volunteering in January 2020.  It is such a beautiful place and concept - the prospect of being part of a team and being involved in something bigger than our own garden and home responsibilities was very appealing. The experience has been wholly positive and the benefits are disproportionate to the amount of time that I have been able to spend there actually gardening.  I think that it has given me a shift in outlook and increased my confidence in different ways. Sarah, garden volunteer