Amanda Patterson of The Hidden Gardens in Glasgow, tells us how the organisation used a Creative Lives 'Keep on Creating' grant to welcome people into a warm, indoor space during winter.

"Located in the southside of Glasgow, between the communities of Pollokshields and Govanhill, The Hidden Gardens has been a green oasis and space for art for local people and families for 20 years.

It has won many awards for its impact and garden design over the years and offers a range of indoor and outdoor creative, communicative and engaging events, activities and learning opportunities for all ages and abilities.

Over the winter months, the gardens were awarded a small 'Keep on Creating' grant from Creative Lives to keep the indoor space warm and welcoming for local people to continue to come together and to connect with each other through conversation, cooking, art, creativity and gardening. Here's what we did . . .

Hidden Garden gardening volunteersGardening volunteers

We offered our volunteer gardeners a get-together indoors during November 2022 as a thank-you for all their hard work nurturing the greenspace across the year. 

A total of 22 volunteers attended; picked and arranged fresh flowers they had nurtured, foraged and harvested the crops they had grown, cooked together with these tasty ingredients and shared a thank you meal together.

Volunteers report that the experience was a lovely way to mark the end of the growing season, to catch up with newly made friends and to share a meal together, as many (over 50%) who volunteer in the gardens go home and eat alone. So thank you for your generous donation to help us keep the heating on.

Women’s Cultural Cookery

A total of 10 local women from a diversity of backgrounds, ages, ethnicity and abilities came together to participate in cultural cookery sessions designed to promote community connections and friendships, intercultural dialogue as well as learning about nutrition and Hidden Gardens womens cultural cookerydeveloping cooking skills.

Because this group of women are so diverse, they themed each week’s recipes on different cultures from around the globe – Lebanese, Italian, Singaporean, Chinese, French, Gambian, Thai, Indian and Pakistani.

The group learned about different spices and ingredients and how to source them. This included making chilli sauce with the last of the chillies that the gardening volunteers grew during the year. Hot, hot, hot!

Extra portions of food are always made from these sessions and then enjoyed by gardening volunteers coming in through the week. Good crossover, so everyone benefits! 100% of participants surveyed said that they feel more confident.

Men’s Group

Hidden Gardens mens groupThe group includes 25 locals who are at risk of social isolation for a number of reasons; men who experience mental ill health, mobility issues or have low or no confidence to engage in activities in their community. The facilitated group empowers the participants to co-determine activities to undertake over the weekly sessions.

During the winter the group enjoyed a range of creative pursuits including photography, science projects, Zine making and visiting other spaces in Glasgow including the Tramway contemporary arts centre.

People say that their participation really makes a difference to their mental and physical health and wellbeing and gives them an increased feeling of being socially connected. 87% of participants surveyed said that they feel more confident.

Winter Gardening activities

Hidden Garden winter gardening activitiesLocal people participated in harvesting flower seed heads from the gardens, drying them and shaking out the seeds. Beautiful little seed packets were made by recycling the colourful pages of an old seed catalogue.

People learn about nature and grow creative skills and friendship in the gardens. Thank you!"