From the Experts @Knoll: Grasses are good for you – Saturday 23rd May

Earlier in his career Neil Lucas, owner of Knoll, was responsible for 130 acres of hospital gardens and grounds as the Gardens Manager for a Devon health authority.

Anecdotal evidence from health professionals at the hospital suggested that the wonderful gardens played a significant role in helping patients’ recovery and wellbeing.  Though perhaps not consciously, this experience has led to Neil’s approach to gardening at Knoll.

Gravel garden entering onto Lower Lawn

So, as a member of the RHS Council, Neil was excited to read the findings from a new large-scale study conducted by the University of Exeter and the Royal Horticultural Society charity, which found that ‘people who spend time in the garden are significantly more likely to report general good health, higher psychological wellbeing and greater physical activity levels than those who do not spend time in the garden.‘

It went on to say that ‘the study is one of the largest to date to look at the benefits of gardens and gardening specifically, and the findings suggest that whilst being able to access an outdoor space such as a garden or yard is important, using that space is what really leads to benefits for health and wellbeing.’

Dr Becca Lovell, University of Exeter Medical School and project lead, said: “Gardens are a crucial way for people to access and experience the natural environment. Our new evidence highlights that gardens may have a role as a public health resource and that we need to ensure that their benefit is available equally.”

Knoll Gardens Foundation volunteers planting the new sedge meadow

This got us thinking about our dedicated volunteers at Knoll Gardens and we wanted to capture a few thoughts on what they gain from being involved, and how volunteering here (surrounded by, beautiful, susurrating grasses…) makes them feel; the impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.

These six responses really summed it up nicely….

  • Knoll is such a lovely place to be and as a team we have a lot of fun each week; an escape to tranquility with friends while gaining gardening knowledge.
  • Knoll Gardens is special; it is a garden, an environment and a nature reserve in one, and I get to help, wow.
  • It is rewarding hard work, but gives camaraderie, sense of purpose, and is fulfilling.
  • I enjoy working in a beautiful, peaceful garden with lovely friends.
  • Horticultural education from other volunteers, team work, companionship and natural history research.
  • Volunteering for Knoll provides me with inspiration and friendship.

Though only a ‘straw poll’ (or could we make it a ‘grass poll’?!) it seems that being in the garden environment, particularly with Knoll’s naturalistic approach to gardening, being part of friendly team and the opportunity to learn, has had a positive effect on wellbeing – grasses really are good for you!


And, STOP PRESS, we are currently looking for new Trustees for our charitable foundation so if you want to be a part of Knoll’s healthy (and very green) feel-good community, why not take a minute or two to browse the website, and find out how you can become a valued Trustee.