About The Serge Hill Project

The Serge Hill Project for Gardening, Creativity, and Health, was set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2021 by Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith. The project draws on Sue's work as a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of the best selling book, The Well Gardened Mind, which investigates the power of gardening to transform lives, as well as Tom's horticultural expertise as an internationally renowned Landscape Architect.

The Serge Hill Project is a not-for-profit initiative based on the understanding that working with nature can radically transform people’s health and wellbeing. The aim is to foster community inclusion through gardening and other forms of creativity.

The project is based in an old orchard at Serge Hill in Hertfordshire with an educational resource centre, currently under construction, at its centre. It will offer resources to local primary and secondary schools, youth organisations and mental health charities, as well as local residents who want to get involved in gardening.

A community engagement programme will focus on those who have least opportunity access to the natural world. It is our aim that along with events and organised visits to the Orchard, the project will lead to long lasting relationships with schools and community groups both locally and further afield.

Contact Information

The Serge Hill Project CIC
The Dairy Studio, Featherbed Lane, Serge Hill Lane
Bedmond, Hertfordshire WD5 0RZ
info@sergehillproject.co.uk

Gardening

Through the rhythmical activities of weeding, hoeing and sowing, gardening is intrinsically a mindful activity. When you make an intervention in the garden, you have to wait to see what happens. You have to notice and you have to respond. In the frenetic world we live in, gardening forces us to slow down and the earthiness is a great antidote to looking at a screen. Above all, it is a living relationship in which we’re not completely in control and through which we become part of something much larger than ourselves.

Creativity

Gardening is unique amongst the creative therapies in drawing on the power of nature’s growth and in the extent to which it brings together the emotional, physical, social, vocational and spiritual aspects of life.

Gardens often contain many different forms of natural beauty. Experiencing beauty has been found to be accompanied by neural activation in regions of our brain which play a vital role in integrating our thoughts, feelings and motivations and damping down our fear and stress responses. Beauty calms and revitalises us - it is an essential ingredient of life.

Health

Some of the benefits of gardening derive from the focus on caring for plants, others from the direct influence of green nature on our nervous systems. The safe green space of a garden is calming which reduces stress and helps promote human connection.

Working with the cycle of life in the garden puts us in a direct relationship with how life is generated and sustained, so that deep existential meanings can emerge through gardening. The experience of transience alongside a sense of continuity is particularly important for people suffering from grief or the aftermath of a trauma. Whilst there is no denying that things die in the garden, the practice of gardening is orientated towards the future in a positive way. Fundamentally, gardening is a hopeful act.

— Sue Stuart-Smith

Our Directors

Sue Stuart-Smith

Sue Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist who graduated in English literature at Cambridge University before going on to train as a doctor. She worked in the National Health Service for many years, becoming the lead clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. She taught at The Tavistock Clinic in London and currently works for DocHealth, a not-for-profit service helping doctors suffering from stress and burnout.

Tom Stuart-Smith

Tom Stuart-Smith is a landscape architect whose work combines naturalism with modernity and built forms with romantic planting. He read Zoology at the University of Cambridge before completing a postgraduate degree in Landscape Design. Tom has since designed gardens, parks and landscapes throughout the world. Recent projects in the public domain include several projects at Chatsworth, a new public garden at the Hepworth Wakefield.

Ashley Edwards

Head Gardener of Horatio's Garden London & South East, Ashley Edwards is a RBG Kew graduate whose profession has taken him to beautiful gardens across the world, including Longwood Gardens in the USA and the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily and Strawberry Hill House & Garden. He is a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and contributor to Gardener's World Magazine.

Caroline Tully

Caroline brings 25 years teaching experience in mainstream and special schools as headteacher, SENCO, outreach teacher and class teacher. She uses an endlessly positive approach in order to increase pupils' confidence to help them make progress and flourish as learners. Caroline now provides a tutoring service to reach out to pupils with a learning need or who are unable to attend school.