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Ruth Gwynn on the benefits of gardening through menopause

by | 15 Jun 23 | Featured Slider, Features, Garden Design, Long Reads, Topics, Website Exclusive

Menopausal support takes centre stage at this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live (GWL) with menopause expert Dr. Louise Newson partnering with award-winning garden designer, Ruth Gwynn to create a show garden representative of the nutritional and physical power of nature.

Over 50% of the world’s population will go through menopause, with the postmenopausal population gradually increasing in line with the rise in life expectancy, yet it is still a topic many feel possesses limited awareness and support.

Holistic menopausal support and wellbeing centre Newson Health has partnered with Gwynn to create a garden that shines an overdue light on the climacteric, earning themselves the GWL award for Best Show Garden.

Ruth Gwynn. Credit to Tony Jones.

“The fact we’re all talking about it now is fantastic and I don’t want that to end. I want people to carry on talking about it because it is so life changing,” says Gwynn.

“I know from the experience that I had going through it, that you need as much support as you can get to help you through.”

At the show garden’s core is the significance of accessible support and illustrating the multitude of benefits engaging with nature can have on physical and mental wellbeing for women going through menopause.

“The whole point of the garden is that it is achievable for most people. I wanted people to come look round the garden and take lots of ideas away and do it themselves, which is what the Newson Trust is all about; it wants people to get outside and garden because being outside is really important.”

Gardening is a liberating form of exercise that can alleviate joint pain caused by low oestrogen levels – a majority symptom of menopause – while also reducing anxiety and stress and replacing it with the liberation of nurturing produce and flora surrounded by green space in the fresh air.

“Looking after plants is very therapeutic; to look after a plant and see that you haven’t killed it and it’s actually growing well. It takes practice and patience – and don’t get stressed when one dies, it happens and it’s not a problem.”

The garden is a culmination of a multitude of beneficial activities that can aid the relief of menopause symptoms from physical activity to nutritional indulgent.

“There is a yoga area because moving, stretching and the breathing exercises and the meditation is truly brilliant for wellbeing.

“We’ve got a strawberry wall that you could do yourself, so it’s all about nutrition as well. If you have a really good diet when you’re going through the menopause, it helps you enormously because you need to keep up your magnesium and iron levels, so a lot of the vegetables that are in the garden will benefit your diet.”

Newson Health Menopause Garden in Watercolour – Credit to BBC Gardeners’ World Live and Alexandra Froggatt

Gwynn is hopeful her design and the mainstream stage will advocate for menopausal support and raise overdue awareness in the hope younger generations will be better equipped.

“I said to my daughter ‘I hope you won’t have to go through the things we went through.’ The shortage of supplies, being ignored and working on old data that’s 20 years out of date.”

In a survey conducted by The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) with nearly 100,000 respondents, 84% of women and or the women they were supporting recalled a time they were ignored by healthcare professionals, a reoccurring point of query throughout the survey manifesting at all stages of the healthcare pathway.

Only 9% of respondents felt they had a substantial amount of information concerning menopause; that is less than one in 10.

Destigmatising the menopause journey and the impact it has on women at individual and societal levels is achievable in large part by raising awareness through mainstream medias.

“World Live has actually got a menopause policy now, so they’re being proactive in supporting their female staff. It’s like if every company started to think about that and put something in place, that would be really good.

“I look forward to Gardeners’ World Live talking about menopause.”

The garden features interactive ‘symptom stations’ exploring different elements of menopause and perimenopause, with clinicians and professionals on site to provide information and advice.

Increased awareness and understanding of menopause are only part of the process, facilitating the means for women to have a higher quality of life is of paramount importance.

Gardeners’ World Live provides an optimal opportunity for Newson Health to connect with visitors and open up dialogue about the menopause in a safe environment.

Newson Health’s award-winning Menopause Garden designed by Ruth Gwynn is on display now at BBC Gardeners’ World Live until 18 June.

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