I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Thrive gardens in Reading.
Since 1978 the charity has been helping change the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health through gardening, and I found the scale of the work undertaken at Beech Hill in Reading truly remarkable.
I saw the Thrive Trunkwell Garden Project which is set in a Victorian walled garden next to Thrive’s head office. It features five small gardens, known as the Garden Gallery, for people with specific disabilities.
Each garden has a name:
- Hearts and Minds Garden – created for stroke survivors or people with heart disease
- Out of Sight – created for people who have a visual impairment
- The Journey – created for people recovering from a mental illness, particularly depression. I found this garden a beautiful and inviting place to sit and relax
- Just for Fun garden – created for children and young people with special educational needs
Run by volunteers, the Thrive Trunkwell Garden Project enables disabled gardeners to develop their skills using a variety of plants and has areas for growing herbs, fruit and vegetables. The site also includes a glasshouse and polytunnels, a bee border, a tree nursery, a large wildlife pond and a shop selling plants grown at the project.
Thrive therapists work with more than 100 disabled people each year ranging in age from 14 to 70 years. The charity also runs gardening programmes in London, Birmingham and Gateshead helping people who want to garden at home, on an allotment or in a community setting.
The work the charity do is amazing, giving confidence and independence to all those that attend through gardening.