Revitalising people and places through garden therapy & design
                               Revitalising people and places through garden therapy & design

As we nurture nature, nature nurtures us.

The restorative possibilities of outdoor space and gardening has been evidenced, notably by Thrive, the national charity for social and therapeutic horticulture. They say "Social and therapeutic horticulture is the process by which individuals may develop wellbeing using plants and horticulture. This is achieved by active or passive involvement."  


Social and therapeutic horticulture works best in a natural environment that has been specially designed. That's why we design therapeutic garden spaces and a tailor-made set of activities to encourage specific beneficial outcomes for the people using them.

Who says it works?

  • "We know it works; and I would say the 'green gym' is good for everyone, but it is particularly beneficial for people with mental ill health, depression, anxiety and dementia." Dr William Bird, Public Health England advisor.
  • Sir Richard Thompson, President of the Royal College of Physicians, says "I have, for some time, thought doctors should prescribe a course of gardening for people who come to them with depression or would be a more cost-effective way to treat some people rather than prescribe expensive drugs". 

  • There is strong scientific evidence to show that exposure to nature reduces stress and promotes wellbeing. Forest walks have been shown by Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Chiba University, Japan, to decrease the stress hormone Cortisol by 16%, blood pressure by 2% and heart rate by 4%. He believes this is because we evolved in natural sourroundings and others have also proposed this 'biophilia' theory, the explanation that there is an evolutionary bond between humans and other living systems and this is why we respond well to greenness, wildlife and nurturing plants. 

  • Research shows outdoor exercise can be as effective as anti-depressants in treating mild to moderate anxiety and depression. MIND has suggested that 'ecotherapy' should form part of the 'clinical treatment toolbox' alongside medication and the talking therapies.

  • Garden activities have been proved to support stroke rehabilitation and recovery by building strength, stamina, mobility and balance. 

  • Studies show that physical exercise helps to reduce weight and the risk of cardio-vascular disease. Gardens can be designed to provide appropriate physical excercise, from gentle walking to vigorous digging. 

You can also see some of the outcomes we have gathered in the Case studies section

How does it help people with dementia?

We gathered research during our studies, about STH and the benefits for older people including those with dementia, and can supply a reference list on request. Some of the key evidence is:

  • Stage-matched gardening activities are shown to improve physical and mental functions of people with dementia, often allowing them to perform at their highest ability. Optimal functioning and esteem-building are important for early stages and sensory stimulation, awareness outside of self and pleasure for late stages. (Ebel, Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, 1991).

  • Garden therapy provides reminiscence opportunities for self-expression and reinforcing a sense of self; also intimacy through group activities and caring for plants alleviates feelings of helplessness and dependency on others. (Cobley, ‘Journal of Dementia Care’, 2003)

You might also want to look at a couple of case studies from our experience: Case studies


Thrive have gathered a huge amount of evidence about the benefits of social and therapeutic horticulture, so take a look at their website to find out more.

thrive website


You might also like the visual summary of the benefits that gardening has for body and mind on the link below:

Why gardening is good for your health on 'WhatShed'


Try it first

We invite you to attend your first Garden Club session with no obligation. If you like it and want more, you can then sign up and pay for a programme that includes the trial session. 


Tel: 07508 178590 Claire

Tel: 07827 924151 Lisa

You can also use our contact form.

All Year

We have a cosy yurt with wood-burning stove at the Welcome Woodland Garden and we go into the shed at the Mind and Memory Garden or the main hall of the Sidney Walter Centre when it's really cold.


We are delighted to be

participating in the Accelerator Programme of the Spark Social Enterprise project, supported by the Interreg 2 Seas Programme. Visit

for more information on the Spark project


We are also delighted to have been awarded funds from Tesco Bags of Help to start a Garden Club at New Tyne Resource Centre for people with dementia - see here


We add latest things of interest to our Facebook page. For older news items and our blog, see here


We are based in Worthing, West Sussex. We run two Garden Clubs in the community and a Community Allotment - addresses are on the home page.

Breathing Spaces Garden Therapy

Community Interest Company 

(limited by guarantee)


Company Number 8825167


Registered office:

c/o Andrew M Wells Accountancy

99 Western Road

Lewes BN7 1RS

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