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RHS Chatsworth Return For Broomfield Hall Garden Volunteers

A group of 40 garden volunteers are returning to RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in June to promote the physical and mental benefits of volunteering their time to restore and maintain the historic gardens at Derby College Group’s Broomfield Hall land-based and leisure college.

Having won a Silver medal at last year’s show in the long border competition, they will again work with Broomfield Hall’s Head Gardener Samantha Harvey to create a garden for the show entitled ‘Find Yourself…Lost in the Moment…’.

A small team of 8 will start building the garden at Chatsworth from mid-May in time for the opening day of the flower show on June 5.

Miss Harvey who is a keen advocate of volunteer gardening has designed the garden to be a calming and inspiring space for volunteers and public alike to ‘lose themselves in the present moment’.

A spiral theme runs through the garden in the form of locally made sculptures and a large wooden patio area, signifying people’s total absorption in gardening and the mindful feelings that it can foster.

Vertical sleepers around the edges of the garden demonstrate the diverse range of skills that volunteers can bring to horticulture, varied paths leading into the garden represent their different backgrounds.

The paths arrive at a central relaxing area which features glass inlaid wooden setts in the form of a large spiral and casual contemporary outdoor bean bags.

The end of the garden has three wooden doors to demonstrate the new possibilities that are open to volunteers as a result of the knowledge gained from their time in the gardens. One of the doors is half opened, revealing a mirror to symbolize reflection and contemplation.

Miss Harvey explained: “Although this will be one of the smaller gardens in the show, I hope it will have great impact on the public and raise awareness and highlight the importance of volunteer gardening.

“The inspiration for the garden is the feedback from our wonderful volunteers about the health benefits and creative opportunities of working in the Broomfield Hall gardens.

“Working in a garden is all about mindfulness – focusing on the job and washing away the worries of everyday life in a calm and methodical way.

“We hope that visiting the garden and talking to our volunteers will encourage more people to get back into their own gardens and hopefully join us here at Broomfield Hall or other similar horticultural establishments.

“We will also highlight the opportunities to learn more about horticulture through our full and part time courses and potentially re-train for a career in the industry.”

One of the latest recruits is mother-of-two Claire Harrison (44) from Kilburn who now comes to Broomfield Hall once a week to help her cope with her long-term depression and anxiety issues.

Her self-confidence and esteem have blossomed in just a few months and she is now planning to enroll on a part time course and set up her own business to use her gardening skills to improve other people’s quality of life – particularly older and disabled people.

She is also planning to help create a garden at her children’s primary school to encourage them to replace screen time with growing plants.

“I started as a volunteer at a particularly low point in my life but Broomfield Hall is a magical place and I feel lucky that I have been given the opportunity to work in the gardens.

“Nothing else matters when you are concentrating on the job and tending each plant is another step closer to feeling better. Being part of this group makes me feel valued and that I am making a difference.

“Whenever I feel depressed at home, I look at my muddy gardening boots and a picture of the gardens on my fridge and I am uplifted.  Coming here is the high point of my week and I can’t describe just how happy I feel when I am working here.”

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