Free garden centre chain scheme opens minds to delights of nature

Notcutts' heritage garden at its Woodbridge garden centre

Notcutts' heritage garden at its Woodbridge garden centre - the company is working with a charity to encourage wellbeing through gardening in lockdown - Credit: Notcutts Garden Centres

A garden centre chain boss said she was “delighted” about the company’s involvement in a drive to help maintain the nation’s wellbeing through gardening.

Woodbridge-based Notcutts — which operates 18 garden centres across England — joined forces back in March 2020 during the first UK-wide national lockdown with national charity Thrive to encourage people into their gardens and connect with nature.

The £75m turnover business was founded in 1897 by Roger Crompton Notcutt and is now in its fourth generation of family ownership.

The ‘Cultivating Wellbeing in Gardens and Nature’ online course has been enjoyed by many, the company said. It has been developed by experts in therapeutic horticulture from Thrive and has been designed to encourage people to use their gardens to spend more time connecting with nature as a tool to restore wellbeing and improve physical and mental health. 

Notcutts Garden Centres vice-chairman Caroline Notcutt said: “At Notcutts, we have always been passionate about the benefits that gardening can bring to mental and physical health as my great grandfather Roger Crompton Notcutt was advised to work outdoors due to ill health.” 

Caroline Notcutt, vice chairman of garden chain Notcutts

Caroline Notcutt, vice chairman of Notcutts, says she is delighted at the Suffolk-based company's involvement in a scheme to help people's wellbeing - Credit: Notcutts

It was at that point that his passion for horticulture began —  leading to the founding of Notcutts 120 years ago, she said. “We are delighted to have had this opportunity to partner with a charity we have been long-standing supporters of and proud to be involved in making such a wonderful experience accessible to all. 

“It’s been well received with a survey of students showing a 99% positive rating among respondents. With people now spending more time at home we feel it is the right time to encourage more people to learn about the benefits of being in gardens and nature”.  

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The five-hour course, which can be completed over any length of time, is split into three short modules. It is suitable for any age and ability and includes expert advice and practical ideas on how to engage with nature, using interactive activities and video tutorials. Users are encouraged to develop and implement their own wellbeing plan, even if they don’t have access to a garden. 

Thrive education boss Damien Newman said: “Coronavirus and its associated social restrictions has underlined the importance of spending time in gardens and nature to maintain good health, and we are delighted this course has helped so many people. 

“We’re pleased that Notcutts’ support means we can make this course freely available and hope it will lead to more people using gardens as a pathway to wellbeing as they continue to face lockdown and other challenges.” 
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