The garden's story
St Mary’s Therapeutic Garden is a place of beauty, an oasis in the heart of Lewisham. It was created through a joint collaboration between the Ladywell Unit (SLaM) and St Mary’s Church in 2017, to promote mental well-being through gardening. It has perennial beds, wildflower meadows, an orchard, a woodland area and raised beds for vegetables and salads. These are looked after by volunteers, including some from the Ladywell Unit, Mind and Elysium Healthcare. Regular gardening sessions take place every Tuesday afternoon, 1-3pm, when everyone is welcome to join in. Benches and pergolas have been donated in memory of loved ones, and it is open for visitors to enjoy every day.
It has been featured on BBC Gardener’s World.
Until the pandemic struck, we were regularly gardening with volunteers from the Ladywell Unit, as well those in other NHS mental health facilities, and some from the community - a big commitment and hard work, but a very happy and gratifying one!
Naturally, since Lockdown, we've been unable to continue with our weekly gardening sessions, but fortunately a few volunteers have been able to come from time to time, and they have kept the Garden looking very nice.
The big difference has been in how much the local community have been using it - from families with small children to yoga devotees, as well as vulnerable people in need of the solace and safety the Garden provides. Sometimes it's been really busy with people picnicking, socially distanced, under the shade of the cherry trees! One regular visitor counted over a hundred people using it during the course of one day.
We've been absolutely delighted with the way the Therapeutic Garden has really come into its own during this pandemic. We're pleased it's been able to serve the people of Lewisham during a very difficult time. Now that they've discovered it, we're really hoping they will continue to use it as a place of peace, beauty and prayer.