For many of us spring is the start of a very busy time in the garden, as we plant and sow, waiting for our little seedlings to grow. The recent Covid-19 restrictions have meant changes to the way we do things and deliver services and projects. The Cyrenians run a number of community garden projects on hospital sites and here Lucy Holroyd, NHS Community Gardens Manager, Cyrenians gives us an update on the innovative way they are changing the way the do things:

At this time of year we are usually busy in the gardens with our volunteers and community groups and students. Usually we are on the hospital wards helping patients with their gardens, getting crafty, and building new spaces.

This year is pretty unusual. We decided early on that if we couldn’t visit hospital wards then we, like so many, wanted to at least do something. So we called the wards, occupational therapists and recreation teams to find out what they needed. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with many staff and patients, like so many of us, turning to the garden.

Many of the wards we work in have some great outdoor spaces. With the influx of students helping out on the wards and people not able to go very far there has been a lot of enthusiasm and possibility. Each ward has specific requirements and we are able to be quite responsive to individual needs. One Community OT is supporting 10 people in their own homes. Each person will get a different pack with tools and other equipment. This week we got a donation from Seeds of Hope Scotland who kindly provided 60 packs of wildlfower seeds. We love the idea of so much wildlife and colour these will bring.

"It’s been wonderful these past few months seeing patients and staff coming out in the good weather to the hospital gardens – we know there are some really positive things coming out of this really difficult time. Sometimes what helps keep you well really is as simple as getting out to the garden."

We now deliver bags every week to over 30 wards across 6 sites. The word has been spreading! Last week Alan and Joe came to see us from a community rehab service. They said ‘we heard about your bags – any way we can get in on it?’ Thanks to a grant from Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation we were able to say yes.

We couldn’t do this without our great staff, fantastic NHS volunteers and staff at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and Volunteer Edinburgh.

And the weather has been great.