Since the whole world was plunged into lockdown and told to ‘stay home’ in March 2020, getting out and about in the great outdoors has never been more important.
Jonathan Bray, Director of Commercial and Creative Operations at Trebah Gardens near Falmouth, explained his experience: “Since reopening, our demographic has changed massively. There are so many more young people coming through now that have found a love for gardening in lockdown, or have an allotment for example. You can see how much more they value green space and being outside, so the aftermath of the pandemic has been really positive in that sense. It’s great because a younger audience means there are people who will continue to care about the gardens for another 50 years – and that’s what we’re here for.”
“A younger audience means there are people who will continue to care about the gardens for another 50 years”
20 Minutes to be Mindful
With the gardeners having had more time to around the grounds over the past 18 months, Jonathan admits the gardens were – and still are – looking particularly “amazing.” Wanting to share their sanctuary whilst the world was forced to stand still, Trebah started posting photos of what the gardens were looking like during lockdown. The response was “incredible.”
“We were sending photos out in newsletters to members and the feedback was that they wanted more,” Jonathan said. As a result, Head Gardener Darren Dickey then started a video blog from his phone which proved to be so popular that Trebah decided to launch ’20 Minutes To Be Mindful,’ a series of videos that enabled people to spend 20 minutes in some of the team’s favourite locations across the garden.
The films have reached thousands of people across the globe.
“It was really lovely. People from all over the world were saying things like we love Trebah, it’s a beautiful place, we’re so pleased to see these films, when this is over we’ll be coming to visit! We had people watching from the USA, Australia, Germany – quite a reach all the way across the globe. It made us feel less alone and showed us that Trebah does hold a really special place in people’s hearts. The garden was kind of carrying on with its normal cycle – it didn’t take any notice of the situation really! It really felt like it was saying, well that pandemic’s happening to you but I’ve been here for 180 years and I’m going to be here for another 180 years and I’m very calm about it all.”
“Trebah does hold a really special places in people’s hearts.”
Explaining why Trebah is such a remarkable place for mindfulness, Jonathan continued, “It’s just very restful, and it’s a space that’s very confident but also gentle. The shape of the gardens feels like a hug in itself; you have a big open vista at the top that makes you go ooh, that’s impressive, that’s wonderful, what a view. As you make your journey into the gardens it sort of swallows you up and you go underneath all the plants, so you feel quite held by the gardens, then as you get to the end you have those massive vistas out to sea from the beach. You start off with that big view, then it compresses you, and when you reach the other end of the journey you feel refreshed; the walk down to the beach and back always makes you feel 10 times better than you did before. This was the feeling that we wanted to share with the world when people couldn’t physically travel to experience it for themselves.”
With plans to develop its cultural offering, Trebah will be looking at ways in which to continue using its spaces for more mindfulness over the coming years, including health and wellbeing programmes, wild swimming clubs, and yoga and pilates classes.
“We’ve learned to be quite dynamic, fleet of foot and we’re a lot more streamlined than we were before,” Jonathan continued. “We’ve had to learn to adapt to so many different things but it’s forced us to evolve as a business; we’ve taken more time to think about where we want to be and what we might want to do in the next five years and beyond.”
This summer, visitors can enjoy a new digital trail, which encourages children to explore and learn about the gardens via a series of QR codes, as well as lots of events including their upcoming show Dandy Lion. “It’s a story about a lion who doesn’t quite get the mane he hopes for, so it teaches you that you don’t have to look a certain way to be the leader of the pride, you just have to have the nicest heart. It’s a ‘travelling’ show, so you meet the cub at the top and then you travel through the gardens with him as he gets older, before meeting the adult lion on the beach at the end. It’ll be great fun!”