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Donations from open garden scheme fund gardens in 60 French hospitals

Keen amateur gardeners open up their own creations to raise money for the projects, which are developed by the Jardins et Santé charity

French open gardens

Open gardens in Central and Eastern France - Jardins de la Bouthière (left), Le Jardin des Clématites (top right), Le Jardin du Presbytère (bottom right) Pic: Jardins et Santé

Garden lovers in central and eastern France can take a peek at other people’s green-fingered efforts this summer thanks to a series of open days organised by Jardins et Santé.

Gardening gives zest for life

The organisation links volunteers and professionals to create therapeutic hospital gardens designed to “uplift the spirits of everyone living or working there”, member Mary Vince told The Connexion

“A lot of Brits will have heard of Horatio’s Garden, which creates gardens for people with spinal injuries, and also of sensory gardens. This is a sort of extension of that idea.”

“The aim is to put people with cerebral, neurological or neuro-degenerative diseases or disabilities back in an environment where nature is present, where gardening enables them to gain or regain a zest for life,” Jardins et Santé says.

Ms Vince added: “For most of us, being in a garden is a way of lifting our day-to-day worries but for people in hospital, their carers and their families, a garden can transform lives.”  

Staff and patients collaborate

Although professional landscapers help develop the garden designs, Jardins et Santé projects are “a collaboration involving all the nursing and administrative staff, and the patients and their families,” she said. 

“As well as richness and diversity, the garden should respect nature, biodiversity, favour plants adapted to its region, and be usable all year round. Quite a task!”

Partly funded by open garden scheme

Since Jardins et Santé began in 2004, it has created more than 60 gardens for patients and staff to enjoy.

It raises a substantial proportion of its charity project funds with the help of horticulture lovers who open their gardens for a few days each year to collect donations of around €5 from members of the public.

Public open their gardens large and small

Ms Vince, who lives in Côte d’Or and will be helping out at one of the gardens, said: “There are all sorts of gardens to see, from the grand to the modest, from simple potagers to woodland. 

“There is one near Chalon-sur-Saône which belongs to a paysagiste (landscaper), so that is fabulous, but other gardens just belong to keen amateurs who have put their heart and soul into them. 

“There is one in Semur-en-Auxois, Le Jardin des Clématites (pictured), which is really steep but has just been terraced and covered in clematis. 

Read more: Your French garden - growing clematis in containers and pots

“There is a whole variety and it is just a lovely way to spend an afternoon.”

More than 30 gardens have been and will be open this year, spread across Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Nouvelle-Aquitaine. 

There is more information at jardins-sante.org

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