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Whitechapel's 'mobile' garden behind Royal London Hospital on the move again looking for new roots

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 April 2019

Hidden garden of peace behind Royal London Hospital now having to move out. Picture: Core Landscapes

Hidden garden of peace behind Royal London Hospital now having to move out. Picture: Core Landscapes

Core Landscapes

A makeshift garden set up on wasteland to help people with their mental wellbeing is soon going on the move again from its temporary space behind the Royal London Hospital.

Core Landscape volunteer tending the Whitechapel 'mobile' garden. Picture: Core LandscapesCore Landscape volunteer tending the Whitechapel 'mobile' garden. Picture: Core Landscapes

The garden and plant nursery created by Core Landscapes social enterprise filled in the gap last year before the site was needed for the Whitechapel redevelopment master plan.

Everything is grown in pots, from radishes to beech trees, with 100 containers for large trees, shrubs and perennials, ready to move on.

It even has a movable orchard and pond which has been occupying the space in Turin Street for 20 months.

But site is now needed for surveying by the Department of Health.

Even the orchard and garden pond are in containers, ready to move out. Picture: Core LandscapesEven the orchard and garden pond are in containers, ready to move out. Picture: Core Landscapes

So Core Landscapes needs to move on to another place by the end of May.

“This is our forth move in 10 years—so we've got it down to a fine art,” Core Landscapes Nemone Mercer explained.

“But we still have to sort out the logistics. We're looking to the next stage of our project at a new East End site.”

The 'mobile garden' idea uses the great outdoors to promote mental wellbeing, often helping those referred by their GPs or health care practitioners.

Everything in pots... ready to shift to another garden site. Picture: Core LandscapesEverything in pots... ready to shift to another garden site. Picture: Core Landscapes

It has benefited 4,000 people since it arrived in Whitechapel from Canning Town in 2017, running workshops, volunteering programmes and just being there for its peace and quiet.

TV presenter Mark Lane from Gardeners' World volunteered to help set up the project after his own recovery from a car smash.

He was its new 'champion' when it arrived in Whitechapel to turn derelict wasteland into a nursery garden.

“I'm living proof of how the great outdoors can change your life,” he said at the time. “My disability made me determined to promote using empty spaces to create a community where anyone can get their hands in the soil and be part of a remarkable cause.”

The former architect had to use a wheelchair after his accident, but retrained and set up a garden design business before joining the Gardeners' World programme.

An estimated 30,000 adults in the East End have common mental health symptoms, with almost 16,000 known to their GP as having depression and 3,300 known to have a serious mental issue, according to Tower Hamlets GPs' commissioning group.

Now the search is on to find another East End space for Core Landscapes to set down their roots again and help the wellbeing of thousands.

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