The Serge Hill Project for Gardening, Creativity, and Health, 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.

James Hitchmough's New Garden
18th June 2024 18:00pm - 20:00pm

Since my early teens, I have made six gardens for myself and my family.The first was foisted onto my long-suffering parents who raised the white flag and let me get on with it. Now for the first time since that garden I have the luxury of time and the largest space thus far to play with. The new garden is part done; the field, with its wildflower meadows, and many closely planted “orchard like” trees (I prefer “coppice wood pasture”) is now in place if of course rather raw. As I write the garden around the house has most of its new bones in place, the contractors are soon to depart, but with no planting other than the trees and shrubs that have lived there for at least 70 years.

Despite no longer being in gainful employment, I cannot step out of the shoes of educator-flier of kites, that I have occupied for the past 40 years. As ever I wanted to make something that was in some way new or at least experimental that might be of interest to others. To boost biodiversity, to respond positively and creatively to climate change, plant lots of different trees (lignin therapy), in the right places; and beneath these, restore an area of meadowland to what it might once have been or better. Perhaps a stepping stone to encourage others to follow suit? I also wanted to have some fun, to choreograph great seasonal drama on the stage that is the garden, my home version of the “wow factor” that has been the hallmark of my life’s work. To do this you need numbers for each moment in time. A single Dodecatheon or Begonia grandis is a fine thing but when you lay 500 of each across a garden landscape a different world is brought into being. It's rather early days but I do hope some of my plans may be of interest to you.

All money raised from ticket sales will go directly to the Serge Hill Project which is a not for profit CIC (Community Interest Company).

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‘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.

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.’

— Sue Stuart-Smith

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At a time when the therapeutic benefits of horticulture are so clear and cuts to social care are so common, this project will provide a space to heal. We envisage the development of the community garden as a whole team effort, with designers and volunteers coming together to create a space that will help people experience the mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits of gardens and gardening.