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Gardener's Ark Anchors at Hidden Gardens

September 09, 2010 12:39 PM

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A “Gardener’s Ark” of colourful blooms created by patients with mental health and learning difficulities is now on tour around Glasgow.

The 10ft plywood fishing boat, filled with flowers including marigolds, fuschias and geraniums, has been built by patients from Leverndale Hospital, who also grew the plants.

Patients and hospital staff also worked closely with colleagues from the Open Museum at Nitshill to create the floral exhibit which has been on display at the Peoples’ Palace.

Louise McGinley, Senior Occupational Therapist based at Leverndale, said: “The patients are a group of adult learners who were inspired by paintings of fishing boats in Glasgow museums.

“The project allowed us to work with the patients to improve their capacitry for new learning, support retention of information and aid the transfer of everyday life skills.

“Thanks to working with the same people for more than two years, this continuity helped the patients produce an installation for public view.

“They took ownership of the project and this boosted their pride, self-esteem and confidence, all of which have a positive effect for the individual’s over-all rehabilitation.”

Martin Montgomery, Joint Inequalities Lead for the Mental Health Partnership, said:

“Stigma is a major concern for people with mental health problems, and our services have a good track record in tackling such issues in ways that are practical, meaningful and positive.

“The Gardener's Ark is a very good example of this and brings with it real therapeutic benefits as well as capturing public attention and awareness.”

The plans for the ark came from Stanley Smallcraft in England who waived their usual fees.

Pat Urquhart of Glasgow Life (adult literacy support), said: “Glasgow Communities Community Learning and Development has a long established working relationship with staff and learners from the Learning Disability unit in Leverndale Hospital.

“Our work in Adult literacy is guided by national and local Adult Literacy and Numeracy strategies and is based on the needs and circumstances of the individual learner.

“Work is therefore tailored to suit the diverse learning styles, different priorities and motivation of each individual.
“We aim to put into practice the skills they require in everyday literacies which have a more meaningful impact on their lives. Using gardening, food and health and art, all elements of the 'Gardener’s Ark', as vehicles for learning, enables us to put into practice these skills.”
Claire Coia, Curator of the Open Museum, added that the project is part of the Open Museum’s Outreach Department:
“We take the museums out to the public and work in communities. Working with the patients has been very satisfying, especially seeing their reactions as the Ark developed.

“It will also be a feature piece at our international conference celebrating the Open Museum’s 20th anniversary.”

The initiative is part of Leverndale’s successful Acorn Project, a horticultural therapy scheme.

Last year green-fingered staff and patients celebrated their debut at the Royal Agricultural Show, Scotland’s top gardening event held at the Ingliston showground, by picking up a bronze prize in the Gardening Scotland section.

The Ark has already been in display at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre and its next port of call is at the Hidden Gardens behind the Tramway Theatre before eventually dropping anchor back at Leverndale.

Notes to Editors:
Pictures available on request.

For more information contact either NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]

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Last Updated: 06 February 2015