Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, St Mary’s Therapeutic Garden has come into its own.
It has finally been discovered by the local community and is now being used for picnicking, socially distanced coffees and chats, relaxation, reading and quiet contemplation.
“The garden has been very busy at times,” says Marion, one of the volunteer gardeners and a lay minister at the church. “One regular visitor counted over a hundred people using it during the course of one day.”
Situated just behind the church but not far from the sirens, noise and pollution of Lewisham High Street, the garden is a surprising oasis of calm in the heart of Lewisham.
Created in 2017, the garden was a joint effort by St Mary’s church and the Ladywell Unit, part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM), to promote mental well-being through gardening.
The area had been known as Church Meadow before it was incorporated into the churchyard in the 18th century and used for burials until 1856.
When burials stopped Lewisham council maintained the area as a rather characterless public open space.
But all that began to change in 2014 when volunteers from St Mary’s started gardening in the churchyard with volunteers from the Ladywell Unit.
As they cut back bushes, trimmed the grass and planted bulbs the idea of a therapeutic garden in the meadow began to take shape.
After raising funds from the National Lottery, Tescos and Lewisham, work started with about 50 volunteers creating beds and planting them. The garden finally opened in September 2017.
Since lockdown the weekly gardening sessions with volunteers from the Ladywell Unit have had to stop. But several community volunteers have carried on gardening, tending the beds and making sure all the plants are well watered.
The garden has been used “by families with small children, yoga devotees, and vulnerable people in need of the solace and safety the garden provides … people have enjoyed picnicking under the shade of the cherry trees,” says Marion.
|“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.” |
If you would like more information on the garden or like to become involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org