Blink and you might miss the entrance to this wonderful, peaceful retreat located on the A264 in Ashurst near Langton Green. Luckily I had done my homework and recognised the logo to Stone Ness Walled Garden on the roadside. Once parked I followed the path that seemed to disappear deep into the undergrowth. I then found myself in front of a door in the middle of a long wall…all very intriguing indeed. On approaching the door I could smell the delights of a BBQ and hear laughter and chatting – I had obviously found the right place.
The day I visited was the garden’s annual Open Day, giving the opportunity for members of the public to come and visit and meet some of the volunteers and users of the garden. I learned a lot about this charity who provide therapeutic horticulture to members of the local community with learning difficulties and/or mental health issues.
The charity is run by Project Manager Jean Burgess, who used to be a vet in Rusthall for many years before taking on the task of creating the Stone Ness Walled Garden as it is now with the help of her dedicated team of volunteers. The home and garden used to be a kitchen garden for a small mansion nearby and was completely overgrown when Jean took over.
Therapy is provided through horticultural activities which are led by volunteers and approximately 30 adults visit each week in small groups and sessions are tailored to meet the needs of those taking part. They might be sowing seeds or planting out vegetables, gathering fruit. As all gardeners know, there is always something that needs doing.
It was a pleasure spending the morning with such a friendly group which includes volunteers from St Anthony’s on Church Road and I’d like to thank everyone for their warm hospitality on my visit.