Thrive – the benefits of gardening

Thrive is the leading charity in the UK that uses gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people who are living with disabilities or ill health, or are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.


This process is known as social and therapeutic horticulture (STH). It uses plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health, as well as strengthen communication skills. Using gardening as a safe and secure place to develop someone’s ability to mix socially and make friends and to learn practical skills is now a proven therapy.

Thrive horticultural therapists use gardening tasks to build a set of activities for each gardener to address their particular health needs, and to work on goals they want to achieve. Last year Thrive worked with over 1,440 client gardeners


What’s so special about gardening?

Gardens are peaceful and restorative. They provide a special place for rehabilitation and recovery. And, being given the opportunity to develop an interest in gardening will give a person benefits that can last a lifetime.

The benefits of an active interest in gardening are:

–          better physical health from exercise and learning how to use or strengthen muscles to increase mobility

–          improved mental health from gaining a sense of purpose and achievement

–          the opportunity to connect with other people – reducing feelings of being alone or left out

–          feeling better for being outdoors, in touch with nature and seeing plants grow, all things that are known to be important to us as human beings

–          the opportunity to learn new things.


More than good health

Improving good health and well-being are at the heart of therapeutic horticulture and there are also other benefits for people who take up gardening.

These benefits are: developing new skills, learning about food growing and what is good to eat, becoming fitter, boosting confidence with new-found knowledge and using this knowledge, and possibly a qualification in horticulture, to get a job.


About Thrive’s work

We work with a wide range of people… people who have injuries from accidents; people with learning impairment; people with mental illness; people with physical impairment such as sight or hearing loss; people with age-related conditions such as dementia, heart problems, diabetes or stroke; young people who have social, emotional or behavioural difficulties; and people who have ill health after leaving the armed forces.

We work in variety of ways. We run therapeutic programmes at our garden sites in London, Reading, Birmingham and Gateshead. We also go out to care homes, village halls, and community projects to encourage gardening activities. And we have a special website that gives lots of information about how anyone can continue gardening at home.


Thrive carries out research

We have brought together a lot of evidence and experience to show exactly how gardening brings about great changes.To spread this knowledge, we run training courses for anyone interested in using horticulture for health and well-being.

In our next blog we will introduce you to some of the people we help.


How you can help and support Thrive

DONATE today. Text Thri02 and the amount you want to give

to 70070; phone us on 0118 988 5688 or donate online at

VOLUNTEER with us in London, Reading, Birmingham or Gateshead

FOLLOW US on Twitter (@thrivecharity) or LIKE our Facebook page

SIGN UP for our newsletters and mailings

For more information contact telephone 0118 988 5688.



Thompson & Morgan
Since the first seed catalogue was published in 1855, Thompson & Morgan has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies. Through the publication of our catalogues and the operation of our award-winning website, Thompson & Morgan is able to provide home gardeners with the very best quality products money can buy.

The Chelsea Roundup

After all the buzz of setting up, last minute polishing and- for some- the clinking of champagne glasses, Chelsea Flower Show exhibitors can now sit back and rest… well almost! Let’s hope the plants can last another day; the unprecedented hot weather this week has given many exhibitors sleepless nights, as they struggle to keep their displays in dazzling form! So here is The Chelsea Roundup.

The Chelsea Roundup

Newsfeeds were going crazy earlier this week; which celebs are at the show? What are the trends? Who’s going to win best in show? How expensive are those sandwiches…?? You simply can’t deny that Chelsea Flower Show is the most talked about horticultural event of the year, and I love how non-gardeners get on board with it too by being glued to the daily shows on BBC2.

The Chelsea Roundup

Who cares if some of the gardens are outlandish, isn’t that what this show is about? It’s a showpiece to show the best skills in garden design and horticulture. I’m convinced you can always take elements of any garden and use them in your own; planting partners, styles of planting, sculptures, create your own mini Chelsea show garden! One of my favourite gardens was the Help for Heroes garden, designed by Matt Keightley. I loved the planting, interspersed by blocks- for me; it was the perfect fusion of tradition al cottage garden and modernist!

The Chelsea Roundup

Help for Heroes garden, by Matt Keightley

I also liked the artisan garden section, mainly because it was in the shade on such a sweltering day! I loved the Virgin Roof Gardens entry, which featured red Geraniums and dwarf Marigolds from Thompson & Morgan. It was an explosion of colour, yet still cool and relaxing!

The Chelsea Roundup

Virgin Roof Gardens

Every year at Chelsea, my main focus is the floral marquee, where I do a spot of indoor plant-hunting! Here, specialist nurseries show off their skills and variety range. You can come here to see everything from gladioli to passion flowers, bonsai to sweet peas. I must admit I can’t help but feel some of the stands have looked the same for 50 years, but there were some fresh looks. How about hanging amaryllis for example??

The Chelsea Roundup

The Plant of the Year stand is in the floral marquee, where any nursery from the UK can enter. Those plants are whittled down to 20 finalists, but there can only be 1 winner. As soon as I walked up to the display, I knew that Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’ had the leading edge, even over plants I had entered! Well, I should have visited a betting shop, as my prediction was right, and this picotee, two-tiered Hydrangea was named Plant of the Year 2014!

The Chelsea Roundup

Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’

Then, tomorrow, it’s the BIG SELL OFF! When the stands are dismantled, and the contents auctioned off. This is an absolutely crazy few hours, and it culminates in the London Underground being filled with people hugging delphiniums…! Phew! Another great show!

The Chelsea Roundup

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

Horticultural Etiquette

Is there a code of horticultural etiquette? Since the recent RHS poll which revealed that one-fifth of gardeners discard of their snails by putting them over their neighbours fence, we have been thinking of other rules and regulations in the gardening world. 78% of those polled by the RHS said they do not throw their snails over fences, but out of that 78% how many really do and won’t admit to it? We may never know but, I believe there will be some people in that percentage that certainly discard of their snails over fence. Sometimes we never like to admit to doing something that is considered wrong or of bad etiquette, i am one of them! Etiquette is a code of behaviour that depicts what is socially acceptable, a standard of what is considered the ‘norm’, if there is such a thing. Here is what we came up with;

1)      Hedges

If planting a new hedge then think carefully about what species to choose. Fast growing conifers can get out of hand if not properly maintained and tend to block light. Just because they don’t block your light doesn’t mean that they won’t be blocking your neighbours! Consider deciduous species and slower growing hedging plants. Maintain boundary hedges. Remember that they grow on both your side and your neighbours – so if it’s your hedge then it’s only polite to offer to cut their side too. Always speak to your neighbour first to ask permission though. Keep hedges to a sensible height. High Hedges are covered under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. This defines a high hedge to be a line of two or more trees or shrubs of more than 2m (approximately 6ft, 6 inches). 

Horticultural Etiquette

2)      Trees

Consider your neighbours when planting new trees, especially if they will grow to block your neighbours light or view. If planting close to the boundary line, will the tree eventually overhang their garden? If so, choose your species carefully.  A fruiting tree such as crab apple can make a real mess on their lawn! On a similar note, any fruits which fall into your garden from your neighbour’s trees will still belong to them as they own the tree. However, they are not obliged to come and clear them up! If you want to pick fruits from branches that overhang your garden then it is advisable to ask permission from the tree owner to avoid any disputes.

Roots that encroach beyond the boundary line are deemed to be trespassing. Technically a landowner is entitled to cut back trespassing roots to the boundary line, however this may cause the death of the tree and is  likely to make it dangerously unstable which could potentially cause property damage, injury or even death! Generally trespassing roots are not an issue unless they remove moisture from the soil beneath buildings which may cause subsidence in later years and therefore become an actionable nuisance. At this point, it’s best to call your insurers and let them sort it out!

Likewise overhanging branches are deemed to be trespassing and you are entitled to cut them back to the boundary line. However in law, the trimmings still belong to the tree owner and should be offered back to them. It always best to ask before you start hacking away at trees – they may be protected by a Tree Preservation Order or be situated in a Conservation Area, and unpermitted pruning could land you in trouble! Often a simple request to your neighbour will be enough to prompt them into action and come and remove the offending branch.

Horticultural Etiquette


3)      General good manners.

Look after borrowed tools as if they were your own and always return them promptly making sure that they are clean and in good working order. Always ask permission before taking cuttings, or removing a seed heads from other people’s gardens. If you have crops to spare then offer them to friends and neighbours. They may well have spare crops of their own so you can do an exchange. Pass the time of day with fellow gardeners – particularly at the allotment. Besides being a friendly thing to do, you will often learn something new!

Horticultural Etiquette


Can you think of any other codes of behaviour for gardeners? Do you follow these or do you go against horticultural etiquette? We would love to know what our gardeners think so please post your comment below!

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

Horticultural Guilty Habit

The RHS has revealed a horticultural guilty habit that one-fifth of gardeners polled have reluctantly admitted to!

A horticultural guilty habit

After our recent spell of rain, you would expect more snails to be appearing in your garden, but are you sure this is a weathering aftermath or do you need to quiz your neighbours? An RHS poll has revealed that one-fifth of gardeners throw their snails over the fence into their neighbouring gardens.  Now, unneighbourly? Yes! Clever? No. Past research has suggested that snails have a homing instinct and if they are not stood on, played with, run over or taken into a child’s bedroom for experimentation, they will return to their rightful owners!

Londoners are the most unneighbourly, with 30% admitting to the habit. Scottish gardeners are less likely to commit the horticultural crime with only 14% passing on their snails.

How truthfull is this poll? We have all done something that no matter how many times we are questioned about it, we still fail to admit to doing it. Are you still hiding in horticultural etiquette? Do you throw your snails? Or do you have any other gardening faux pas? Let us know your guilty gardening habits by posting your comment below

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

How I got into gardening, part 1


Michael Perry, New Product Manager

Everyone always asks me what got me into gardening… and the answer is my grandparents!

My first bleary memories are of my grandparents’ vast greenhouses, their endless complex of sheds filled with garden tools and, of course, pots and borders lovingly planted with plants that captured my attention from that ever so young age!

Specific plants I remember from their garden are: rampant orange alstroemeria, a poor relative of today’s colourful, and more well behaved types! Zonal geraniums sat in fancy stone pots as well as much less fancy, chipped “crock” (terracotta) pots, my gran kept the plants from year to year too! Also, shasta daisies, in short and tall variety, and we used to cut some for mixed vases indoors too! And, during iris season, we used to spend time guessing what colours the blooms would be. Did you know the rhizomes of blue flowered ones are tinged purple??

My story, part 1

In my Nana’s garden

My story, part 1

My Nana

I soon had a flower patch in my parents garden, and I remember going to plant out one of my first school-grown specimens, a trailing Zebrina (sometimes called tradescantia). Yes, its a houseplant, but that didn’t matter to me, I was eager to get my patch filled, the growing bug had bitten me!

Well, I went to plant it out and, in typical clumsiness which has plagued me ever since, promptly stood on the plant. This is a harsh memory for me, as I vividly remember running indoors crying!

So, I soon found other plants for the patch and was helping out my dad with his too. I was often busy sowing vegetable favourites such as radishes, beetroot, carrots and the like. I remember my dad used to stick each empty seed packet at the end of the row as a makeshift label.

My story, part 1

In my parents’ garden

Somehow, somewhere, I developed an interest in herbs. I think this stemmed from a purchase I made of Jekka McVicar’s complete herb book. I was fascinated by the fact you could use plants for things! I was obsessed by using them in cooking, one of my star turns was lavender biscuits you know! I also loved mixing up concoctions. This was something that had a bit of a renaissance for me when James Wong brought out his show. I clambered to mix up his recipes, I managed some of the hand creams, but my breath freshener mix went a bit wrong and all dried up!

I seem to remember beginning to read Amateur Gardening from a teenage stage, obviously hiding this from any school friends. Then, I somehow got involved in the school garden, and when hoeing and weeding it at lunchtimes, seemed to forget it was in full view of the lunch hall! Oh well…

My story, part 1

My sunflowers

Another thing I did “on the quiet” was joining the local WI market, which my Nan was gardening matriarch of. I think my member number was 13 and I sold a range of plants, and also my lavender biscuits. At one stage I was growing so much that I joined the market in the neighbouring town too!

Around the same time, I started collecting herb plants avidly and soon had something like twenty different mints and a sage in every colour of the rainbow! As I grew more and more, my parents garden seemed to shrink. The entrepreneur in me then placed a small advert in the back of a BBC Gardeners World magazine. Soon, a rather basic, but fun, Springfield Herb Nursery was born! Handling six or seven orders per month, I was also producing a typed and photocopied catalogue! Little did I know that this was a bit of a premonition of things to come.

Anyway, I neared the end of my years at school, not quite knowing what I wanted to do in any shape or form. I had achieved good GCSE marks in geography, art and English I think…although my memory is quite hazy now!

I seemed to gravitate towards Otley College, I think fuelled by an earlier week of work experience there. So I enrolled onto the National Diploma in Horticulture, a 2-year course, which seemed perfect for someone who hadn’t made their mind up and really didn’t fancy uni!

My story, part 1

My college class

The course was, how shall I say, varied… and included everything from economics to sports turf… tractor driving to biology! Well, I couldn’t drive a tractor (I once reversed over some steel girders as I faffed around trying to find the brakes) and every time I was in sports turf class I got soaked by the hose!

But, what I did like was the “plant idents”. This was a session where 20 or so pieces of plant are lined up in vases and you must name them! This I could do…! Plants had always come naturally to me, I seemed to soak in their names without any hassle at all. I positively excelled at this, and it fed my thirst for learning about plants. I pored over books, fantasising about plants I might never see (although some I now have!!). I always marvel when I see meconopsis in real life, as I spent so many years only seeing it in books.

I also seemed to like garden design and landed some work experience and regular helping duties with a local garden designer, which included getting to visit some superb country homes as his “right-hand man”! But, as I neared the end of my course, I still had no idea what I really wanted to do, nor did I bother addressing it. Even in the final few weeks, I still had no plan!

Until… I noticed a competition in the local newspaper. It was to design a garden at well-known local firm Thompson & Morgan‘s headquarters…

Michael Perry
Michael works as Thompson & Morgan’s New Product Development Manager, scouring the globe for new and innovative products and concepts to keep the keen gardeners as well as amateurs of the UK happy!

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