Beardy Gardener Leigh 1
Leigh found that gardening saved his life during the lockdown period, and decided to find a way to spread this joy to others.

Leigh has lived through some difficult times. His father left when he was young, and his mum was an alcoholic. He would often come home from school to find his mum drunk and have to put her to bed. Growing up in this environment led to Leigh experiencing trauma over a long period, and it wasn't until he studied drama at university and talked about his experiences on stage that he found a way that he could express himself and share his story.

Leigh found this to be a huge release for him and wanted others to experience the benefits of using drama as a tool to express themselves. This is why he set up the Fluid Motion Theatre Company, to help people to improve their self-esteem and open up about their mental health. He continues to be the Artistic Director of Fluid Motion, which is now a registered charity that also runs the UK's leading arts and mental health festival, All in the Mind.

I have a passion for encouraging others to have their lightbulb moment.


Despite finding drama as a helpful tool for his wellbeing, when the covid pandemic hit and the first lockdown started, Leigh found his mental health deteriorating. His grandma died of covid and everything had become overwhelming, and he needed something to save him from this very dark time in his life.

He and his wife had recently bought a house with a garden in Southampton. Leigh didn't necessarily see himself as a gardener, but he had fond memories of his grandma's house as a child and spending time in her garden which had a beautiful apple orchard and a secret woodland with a hollowed out oak tree.

This garden was a magical place to explore as a child, a place to escape. This inspired Leigh as an adult to take inspiration from his grandma and use his new garden as a place to escape the cloud of darkness he was experiencing.

My garden is an expression of who I am.


In his garden, Leigh found a space that was his own. It's a place where he feels free to be himself and to connect with nature. He doesn't need the garden to be prim and proper, he's happy to let the grass and plants grow, inviting in more wildlife.

One of the things Leigh loves about gardening is that he can do it at his own pace. It encourages him to slow down, and he can adapt what he does and how long he does it for, based on how he is feeling. For instance if he only has 15 minutes, he can fill up his bird feeder, do some weeding, sweep leaves or do some pruning and feel better as a result.

Sometimes he just likes to dance in the garden, which for him is all about self-expression, an opportunity to be silly and not take himself too seriously, whilst spreading the joy that gardening brings.

Leigh has also found that setting up his Instagram page as the 'Beardy Gardener' has helped him as he feels the gardening community is very warm, friendly and supportive of others. He feels this has benefitted his mental health as he is able to connect with others who have had similar experiences. Thankfully his wife is happy to be his photographer and videographer which he is very grateful for!

Having acquired a love for gardening, Leigh wanted to share this joy with others. After his grandma died he visited her old garden and found a seed box. He wanted to share these seeds in memory of his grandma, so he posted on Instagram inviting people to request some seeds, offering them on a first-come, first-serve basis. Seeing the happiness this brought to people, this gave Leigh an idea for how to continue to spread this joy.

Beardy Gardener Leigh 3
Leigh - 'The legacy of what my grandma taught me is living on.'

Leigh started a project called 'The Giving Garden'. He has a list of plants that are known to be good for people's wellbeing, and he grows them for others who don't have their own garden. He feels incredibly lucky to have access to a beautiful green space and wants to use it to help others enjoy the wellbeing benefits of having plants to take care of. Leigh loves this project and it has allowed him to build many meaningful connections.

Looking ahead, Leigh is excited to continue his Giving Garden as well as a number of other projects. Leigh writes for various newspapers and magazines and is a contributor to several horticultural and wellbeing podcasts. He is frequently heard on the radio, being called upon to talk about a variety of gardening topics on stations including BBC Radio 5 Live and LBC.

Leigh has also been giving talks at RHS events about gardening and wellbeing which he hopes to continue (look out for him at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival next year), and sometime in the future he'd love to acquire some land to set up a horticultural and creative retreat.

Given his passion and what he has already achieved, you wouldn't doubt him to continue his good work and make a significant difference in people's lives.

You can change lives with gardening