It's Official - Gardening Really Does Heal The Mind, Body and Spirit

Gardening Against The Odds winners receive awards at Chiswick House

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Gardening Against The Odds Awards


Chiswick House Trust

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Ten gardeners with personal experience of the healing powers of gardens and gardening will be honoured for their efforts to create beauty and solace against the odds at an awards ceremony at Chiswick House on Tuesday 8 March.

David Bellamy and Susan Hampshire presented the Gardening Against The Odds Awards in the magnificent surroundings of the restored camellia house.

Organised by The Conservation Foundation, the national awards are dedicated to gardening writer Elspeth Thompson, who died last March. Entries came from gardeners throughout the country, all with stories to tell of how their lives and the lives of others had been changed for the better through gardening.

The winner Andrew Barnett from Yorkshire even believes his garden saved his life. The former head teacher had to give up the job he loved when severe depression left him unable to work. His garden high up near Ilkley Moor was a bare boggy site when he and his family moved in ten years ago. Now it is a beautiful place which rewards his efforts by producing flowers, fruit and vegetables for his family, friends and neighbours.

One of the two runners up also comes from Yorkshire. The 16 members of the Growing Together group in Bingley share something else apart from a love of gardening. They are all blind. Despite tripping over hoses and losing tools, they have created a garden to be proud of.

Doreen King from Winchmore Hill, the second runner up, took it upon herself to turn a weed infested alleyway between two streets into a cared for safe area, beautifully planted and lovingly tended. “Doreen King’s transformation of a squalid area into a meadow walk is the embodiment of ‘guerrilla gardening’”, observed Green & Black’s founder Craig Sams, one of the judges.

All seven highly commended gardeners were also at Chiswick House.

Conservation Foundation director David Shreeve explains, "For Elspeth, gardening against the odds was not just a challenge, it was making something – however small and seemingly insignificant – special. And that’s why it fitted in so well with what we do at The Conservation Foundation.”

He continues, “When David Bellamy and I started the Foundation our main aim was to promote positive news about the environment. There were plenty of others doing doom and gloom. But there are people all over the world who care about the environment and are doing their bit to help it, usually without any reward, but thanks to the Sunday Telegraph and Green & Blacks we are able to pat just a few of them on the back today in this very special place.”

March 8, 2011