To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, our Story Catcher and Good Work customer Mark (who is also a keen gardener) embraced the rain at Rivelin Valley to meet with Sam, a Living Well customer (and fellow garden enthusiast). Together they discussed the joy of gardens, the thrill of growing your own plants, and the benefitthat nature can have on wellbeing and connection. 


“I started gardening as a child, my dad was a farmer. I remember the goats nibbling my ears when I was a child!

The first roses came from my country, from Persia. The word ‘paradise’ is a Persian word. The paradise garden is the original garden. The roses back home smell amazing. I found one of the varieties growing in the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield.

Nature is the best place for mindfulness, especially for people who experience anger. There’s no anger in nature. I come down to the park at night time to sit and listen to the river, it sings you a song. 

Birds sing such a beautiful melody too, they don’t complain. In nature everything relaxes and slows down. I love watching the fish swim, and the ducks swim.” 


“For me, the garden is a place I can be on my own, I don’t have to be anybody but who I am; it’s time for me, away from the pressure of doing or being anything else. My mother taught me to grow things, so I remember her when I’m in my garden. I love growing soft fruits. Me and a friend swap plants too, it’s a part of our relationship.” 

Gardening tips from Sam and Mark  

Sam: I don’t use chemicals on my plants. If I find slugs I take them down to the park. You can use salt to repel them, and you can spray vinegar to get rid of greenfly.

Mark: You can also spray bugs off with water using the pressure from the hose pipe.

Sam: Gardening doesn’t have to be expensive eitherI don’t spend much money on it – 20p here, 50p there. Sometimes people throw their plants away, I rescue them and keep them alive. When you grow things, you feel good.

Mark: You can also save seeds and take cuttings from other plants. You can buy ‘willow wands’ and plant them to make living willow structures.

Sam: You can graft plants together as well, you can get your roses to be many different colours this way.

From birdsong out the window, to tree-lined streets, and even potted cacti in the smallest of spaces, nature can be found everywhere we go. If you’re looking to bring some joy to your environment or would love to experience the excitement of seeing something flourish, you could start with some herbs on a windowsill, a plant in the corner of a room, or visit a local allotment.

Taking notice of the nature has been proven to have huge benefits on health, and it can be a really special way to connect with yourself, with loved ones, and with the world around you.  

Thank you to Mark and Sam for sharing their experiences, and their love of gardens.

Over the past year Mark has been speaking with many customers to hear about their experiences of our services so we can continue improving. If you’re a customer who also loves wildlife, enjoys embracing all that nature has to offer, or has some feedback to share about your experiences, please do get in touch to share your stories with us. Our Customer Collaboration team and Marketing team will happily chat with you, however best works for you. Please email: or call 0114 2900 200.