How Jo Malone London and a garden in Bristol are helping people transform their lives
If you’ve been to Castle Park recently you may have noticed the beautiful blooms in the garden around the castle ruins. But what you may not have realised is that this garden does a lot more than just look pretty – it’s a space that has helped transform the lives of many people in Bristol.
The Castle Park Physic Garden opened a year ago as part of a global charity initiative by Jo Malone London which aims to support people living with mental ill health and physical disability through the cultivation and care of therapeutic scented gardens. The luxury fragrance brand works with dedicated charity partners to support the creation of peaceful, safe havens for rehabilitation and recovery and the gardens are designed to nourish and nurture.
Last year Jo Malone London supported St Mungo’s to create the Putting Down Roots (PDR) programme and The Castle Park Physic Garden. St Mungo’s is one of the UK’s leading homelessness charities working to end homelessness and help people to recover from the issues that create homelessness. Each night the charity provides housing and support to 2,500 people and the partnership with Jo Malone London allows it to build on its existing work. The Castle Park Physic Garden is now a place where trainees can gain an inclusive sense of community as well as practical skills, and there’s the opportunity to gain new qualifications in horticulture, paving the path to long-term employment.
Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive, St Mungo’s Broadway, said: “Gardening is renowned for its therapeutic benefits and we are delighted at the success of this incredible partnership with Jo Malone London.
“In addition to the Putting Down Roots volunteers gaining so much through skills training and the therapeutic activity of gardening, the Castle Park Physic Garden has also been transformed into the most beautiful space. The shopping and business community have increased their use of the space and commented on what a wonderful retreat it is from the busy city. St Mungo’s are incredibly grateful to Jo Malone London for their ongoing support and the dedication of the boutique stylists who give so much time as volunteers for the planting days with the Putting Down Roots team.”
Since the garden opened last year there has been more than 1,500 gardening hours on site and more than 400 guided learning hours for the qualification. 31 clients have participated in the project, five have completed the qualification and three have gone on into employment, including one as a full-time landscape gardener.
Rico, a client of the Putting Down Roots Project with Jo Malone London and St Mungo’s is one of those who has benefitted from taking part in the scheme. He said: “From working in the garden it is good to learn that I actually do have green fingers, the garden is relaxing and fun for me. I enjoy learning in the team, figuring out who is good at what so we can teach each other and let people get on with what they are good at. The main thing is that we all actually really get along and work well together as a team. The public come by to look and ask us questions about the plants, I have been able to pass on my knowledge, which made me realise how much I have actually learned.”
Another client, Frankie, said: “Participating in PDR (Putting Down Roots) and the Castle Physic Garden helped to change my life, and if I hadn’t done it I wouldn’t have got this far.
“It is a very special thing and helps me to stay focused. When I first joined PDR I was not fully focused but as I kept returning I was seeing how the garden in Castle Park was blooming and how important it is to return and show commitment to myself, others and more importantly the garden. This then led to being given the responsibility of overseeing gardening sessions myself and engaging with clients.
“Because of my progress within PDR I have also started volunteering as a PAL volunteer (Peer Advice Link). This entails helping women who like myself, have spent time in hostels and may need help with moving into independent living.”
Clients work year-round to keep the garden in prime condition and to ensure that it remains a beautiful haven through all the seasons.
Following the launch of the Castle Park Physic Garden in June last year, the garden continued to grow and flourish through the summer and into autumn. Work continued on the garden throughout winter with three different types of daffodils and snow drops planted in December. Throughout autumn and winter PDR kept the beds weeded, pruned back the shrubs and plants and generally kept the site clean.
Garden designer Emma Coleman said: “At the start of the spring new growth began to appear through the ground on all of the perennials and bulbs old and new appeared.
“A large number of plants were ordered and planted when the Jo Malone London team joined us for a volunteer day.
“Together with what’s growing in the beds from last year, the new planting alongside an abundance of annual seeds and plants going into the beds, we’re expecting the garden to flourish later this year with a lovely array of colours, shapes and sizes that’s going to look stunning. We are delighted that the garden is also attracting many bees and butterflies into the area, making the most of the pollinating flowers on show!”
The Castle Park Physic Garden is cultivated and cared for through the sale of a Jo Malone Limited Edition Charity Candle.
This year’s charity candle is verdant and delicate Peony and Moss and for every candle sold Jo Malone London will make a donation directly to their charity partners of 75 per cent of the retail price. The candle will be available from July at a cost of £44.