"Gardening Across London Has Changed My Life For The Better"

"Gardening Across London Has Changed My Life For The Better"
Jacqui in one of the gardens she tends, as part of the Putting Down Roots initiative. Image: St Mungo's

"I work in about five different gardens, they are all different and all over London."

Jacqui was rough sleeping in 2020 but has now turned her life around, living in her own private accommodation.

A huge part of that journey has been through the charity St Mungo's, and specifically Putting Down Roots — its horticultural therapy and training project, which has been transforming lives since 2000.

Image: St Mungo's

In a city where much of the land is green, yet many people don't have their own gardens, Putting Down Roots is a chance for St Mungo's clients to learn about growing and tending to various flowers and veg. The cyclical nature of gardening, says St Mungo's, can teach a wider message about positive outcomes coming after cold spells.

So what's Jacqui's favourite garden to work in?

"One is an allotment in north London, one is a quiet garden in central London — and I really like them all for different reasons," Jacqui tells us. "I plant a variety of things — garlic, lettuce and onions and many other things. I get to eat them afterwards. It's brilliant."

The Putting Down Roots garden which earned a medal at Chelsea. Image: St Mungo's

Being out in the gardens, says Jacqui, has really improved her state of mind: "Before gardening my mental health was all over the place, it is now stable. The fresh air really helps me, being outside and surrounded by nature significantly lifts my mood.

"The gardening gives me a focus every morning, to get up and get out of my flat. I am so grateful to be a part of it."

In May 2022, Putting Down Roots designed a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show, featuring green textural foliage and hard landscaping made from recycled materials, with large planters and a pavilion 'for respite from the pressures of city life'. The garden scooped a silver medal, and will now be relocated in Guy's Hospital and London Bridge City.

Jacqui helped to create an award-winning garden for the Chelsea Flower Show. Image: St Mungo's

"Going to Chelsea was great and I would love to do it again," says Jacqui, "It was a big task and I was surprised we were able to do it.

"I love all of the gardens, I don't mind what I do, I get my hands dirty doing any of it."

Learn more about the work done by St Mungo's on their website.

Last Updated 22 July 2022

Continued below.