Pure bliss as Berkshire gardeners return to work after 18-month absence

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Successful client gardeners working in the 18th century walled garden at The Vyne. Image: Mark Lang

Submitted by Thrive

Sheer delight was the thrill of the day when gardeners who were clients of the Berkshire Thrive horticultural therapy charity returned to work at a historic National Trust property after an 18-month absence due to Covid-19.

The Grade 2 listed walled garden at The Vyne near Sherborne St John in Hampshire is now back in the care of two groups of Thrive customers, who take care of its many vegetables, fruits and flower beds.

Among those who were happy to be back was Thomas Beale. After harvesting bags of Spanish beans to sell to visitors, Thomas said: “It was a good day. “

The return to the walled garden was enjoyable for support volunteer Tim Swain, who enjoyed talking to visitors. He said: “They are always friendly and there are a lot of compliments which are nice to hear.”

Working with a horticultural therapy practitioner, Thrive clients perform all required gardening work, from sowing seeds to harvesting.

Thrive’s client gardeners, who suffer from various disabilities and long-term health issues, have worked at The Vyne for 20 years and the pandemic has caused their longest absence from the Walled Garden.

Hollie Ryan, Visitor Operations and Experience Manager at The Vyne, said: “It’s wonderful to meet up with Thrive and work with us on our vegetable patch in our walled garden.

“What they are doing here is a wonderful contribution to our property and our visitors love what they grow and see the vegetable garden come to life.”

Thrive client and garden manager Jan Broady said, “It’s great to come back to The Vyne. Hearing how much our teams enjoy working there underscores the value of our partnership with the National Trust and how it delivers benefits to clients and visitors. “

Thrive operates horticultural therapy programs in its gardens in Beech Hill, Berkshire, for clients in Berkshire and Hampshire.

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