#GrowWildStories: A Wellbeing & Wildlife Haven

Grow wild poppies and cornflowers
How a Leamington wellbeing centre created a safe haven for their local community during lockdown

We spoke to Theresa, Wellbeing Officer at the Brunswick Hub, a mental health & wellbeing centre in Leamington Spa, to find out how their Grow Wild wildflower seed kit helped the centre to create a wildflower community garden in summer 2020.

“It was a colleague of mine who first introduced me to Grow Wild. She’d seen a promotion for the free seed kits on Facebook, and so decided to apply on behalf of the Brunswick Hub. We were delighted that we were selected to receive some of the seeds! We have a secret garden here at the hub and before we received our seed kit it was neglected, shall we say! Once we had the seeds, we were able with the help of our volunteers, especially Dougie, to transform the whole space and it’s now absolutely beautiful! He’s put so much into it over lockdown – not just the plants but other things that attract people into the garden.

We had great results from our wildflower area and since we were lucky enough to be able to reopen the centre at the beginning of August, people have been able to come and enjoy the space, often bringing picnics and staying for a while. On Friday mornings, we have a baby group, so after the group, many of the parents have been taking their children out to the garden to have lunch. They’ve said how useful it is to have such a nice area to go to – it’s a bustling area where we are, but in the garden, there’s a sense of restfulness, calm and tranquility.

More people have been using the space since we reopened – even coming just to take five minutes in it, as it’s such a beautiful area to be in. As the wellbeing officer, I try to promote it to people so that they spend more time in nature – it’s so good for our mental health. Our weekly mental health group now meets outside as it’s such a nice environment to be in and many of the participants find it calms them down and supports them.

Members of our regular groups have also become involved in the actual gardening as well, which has its own wellbeing benefits! We’re already sourcing seeds and plants ready for  spring next year. We have a dementia group, and so I’m really hoping we can get out there in spring to paint pots and enjoy the other activities in the garden itself.

Many of the visitors to our garden don’t have access to green space where they live, so when COVID-19 first hit the UK, even very early on, people were able to come to the garden for their daily exercise and enjoy the space. It’s been a bit of a lifeline for people.

We’re also proud to announce that we recently received a “Highly Commended’ Award from our local ‘Leamington Spa In Bloom’ which was a fantastic achievement and testimony to the hard work and dedication from our volunteers - especially Dougie who oversaw the garden throughout the year.”

To find out more about Brunswick Hub and the services they offer, visit their website. If you’d like to read more about the wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature, read our blog on wellbeing or forest bathing.