Better Health and Ambassador Winners 2019 – Sunday Mirror

Gardens for Better Health - 1st PRIZE
Lost The Plot

We are unveiling more brilliant Cultivation Street 2019 winners – this week highlighting the plots that make you feel better and people who inspire you to do better.

Our community gardening campaign has been blossoming since 2013, handing out prizes totalling £100,000. We’ve celebrated hundreds of community projects making a difference to lives. And this year’s competition, sponsored by Calliope Geraniums, saw the launch of an exciting new category. Gardens for Better Health recognises the gardens having a positive impact on mental or physical health in their community. And our garden centre Ambassador of the Year honours the stars in the horticulture industry, rewarding the most passionate and engaged staff – those who build relationships and help nurture community projects.

Lost The Plot community project, Deal, Kent This thriving community
allotment gives people with mental health issues pleasure and a purpose. And it is all the more remarkable as it only started
11 months ago. This heart-warming project wins the £2,000 top prize, plus 100 Calliope geraniums. The Talk It Out mental health support group has been running in the area for eight years – but was initially an outdoor wellbeing centre. Now volunteers come together to grow potatoes, asparagus, lettuce, beans, peas,onions, corn on the cob, radishes and carrots.

Lost The Plot 2019 Consent Given 7
Lost The Plot 2019 Consent Given 2 - Copy

The 50 x 30 yard plot, part of Deal’s Telegraph RoadAllotments, benefits from insect hotels, hedgehog havens and a natural pond with a small solar-powered water fountain. But when work started, the allotment had no structure, plants or features. Wide clear walkways and raised beds were created to provide a green space where members can access a supply of fresh fruit and veg. There
are polytunnels, netting, a herb garden, plus plums, strawberries and rhubarb.

Many members suffer with depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, stress and bipolar disorder. This project provides a place for them to go and chat during the day if they are in need. Talk It Out Founder Tracy Carr said: “Our plot has been going for only 11 months. We have transformed a bare strip into a calm wellbeing haven for all our members to enjoy.

Lost The Plot 2019 Consent Given 5
Lost The Plot 2019 Consent Given 6

The mental health of our group has improved and everybody loves talking about the garden. “This project really should serve as a template for outdoor wellbeing centres. “Winning is a real boost. I cannot justifiably put into words the self-worth and lift in mental health this garden and your prize has given. We really are so truly grateful. “As soon as they walk down the path, members describe a sense of freedom and being at one with nature.

They get the chance to work the soil,
plant, have an involvement in decision making and enjoy the produce of their
labours. It also provides the opportunity for friendship, a chat and a cup of tea.” Volunteers are planning to purchase seeds and tools with the prize money. Tracy added: “We never thought we’d ever have such a nice ‘problem’ as to know what to spend the money on. “But I can say with every guarantee it will be wisely spent as we keep very tight purse strings.”

Lost The Plot 2019 Consent Given 4 - Copy

JUDGES’ VERDICT: “This project shows how much can be achieved in just 11 months. We can’t wait to see how Lose the Plot develops over the coming years. “The competition was intense but this is a truly inspirational project, making a real difference in its community.”


Second, £1,000 and 100 Calliope geraniums: Include Me 2, Reidvale Allotments, Glasgow.

Third, £750 and 100 Calliope geraniums: Wonky Garden Projects, Halton, Cheshire.

Highly commended, £500 each: Therapeutic Horticulture Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham;

Heart, Mind and Soul Silverburn, Leven, Fife, Scotland.

Gary Bissett

Gary Bissett, manager at Inver Garden Centre in Larne, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland Having worked at the garden centre for 22 years, Gary has been putting his experience to good use, helping youngsters at eight local nursery schools. And he’s won £1,000 for his dedication. He has been teaching kids how to sow seeds and grow to help the planet – and he also helps adults with learning difficulties and patients recovering from strokes.

Gary Bisset Inver Garden Centre 2019 Consent given image4
Gary Bisset Inver Garden Centre 2019 Consent given image1

Gary said: “It’s rewarding as children are the gardeners of the future. As a parent myself, I think outside the box where funding is limited, using available resources.”

JUDGES’ VERDICT: “Gary stood out for his dedication, enthusiasm and the time he spends helping youngsters to become greener.”


Second, £500: Georgia Isherwood, Dobbies Kings Lynn.

Third, £150 each: Dale Lainton/Graeme Heath, Simpsons, Inverness.

Highly commended, £100: Emma Taylor/Janet Hawkings, Garden Store Bromsgrove; Zoe Stanmore, Dobbies Southport; Sophie Menjou, Haskins Southampton; Angela Fletcher, Notcutts Rivendell; Angela Murray, Dobbies Liverpool; Diane Mackintosh/Toni Middleton, Haskins Crawley; Louise Canfield, Aylett Nurseries, St Albans; Matthew Lewis, Old Railway, Brecon; Simon Haines, Sunshine, London; Niki Miller, Langlands, Shiptonthorpe; Jackie Barker, Notcutts Solihull; Carol Watson, Notcutts Tunbridge Wells.

Published in the Sunday Mirror

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.