Breathing easier in the garden


Breathing Green Air programme in action

How do you continue your passion for gardening when you have serious problems breathing?

This was a question that a new pilot programme called Breathing Green Air - delivered by Thrive in partnership with the British Lung Foundation - sought to answer.

The course, which was run at our regional centres in Birmingham and Reading, introduced people with respiratory conditions to a range of skills and techniques to help them carry on gardening.

The activities designed by the horticultural therapists concentrated on what participants could achieve rather than what they couldn’t and were planned to ensure they were meaningful and purposeful.

Gardening techniques were modified and tools adapted to meet people’s needs and this enabled activities such as:

  • Seed sowing
  • Pricking out and potting on
  • Pruning 
  • Propagation
  • Planning and planting containers for different seasons

Feedback from the 12-week programme, which ran on four occasions, was "overwhelmingly positive", according to Amanda Fields, Birmingham Regional Centre Manager.

"People benefited greatly from it, it was brilliantly received and many wanted to come back," said Amanda.

Paul Scott, Thrive’s Reading Regional Centre Manager, said: "Participants were particularly keen to express how the course did not focus on their conditions. Everyone seemed to find this particularly refreshing and enhanced their sense of positive wellbeing.

"A number commented that they enjoyed being somewhere where their condition was not a topic of conversation as they were so absorbed in the weekly horticultural activities."

Further evaluation of the pilot programme is being carried out to understand more about the benefits of gardening in relation to respiratory conditions. However, two course members have now gone on to become volunteers with Thrive supporting clients in the garden on a weekly basis.