Care in the Garden, at Palmers Brook in Wootton (just off the racecourse), is a not-for-profit organisation set up to make a difference by creating work opportunities for those who need a helping hand.

The organisation was the brainchild of John Goodenough, who started out with what he described as a clapped out old van and five people. It has subsequently grown to six vans, a staff of 82 and has gained Islandwide recognition.

Islander magazine asked John why it was important for Islanders to spend their money at the nursery. John said: “Every pound spent in Care in the Garden is an investment in peoples’ lives. Everyone has the right to a full and meaningful life. There has to be social change.”

Care in the Garden aims to provide extended work placements for those with learning difficulties. Employees learn new skills to enable them to work with other Island businesses such as the Garlic Farm in Newchurch. Prospective employers can take on those with learning difficulties for a trial period, during which all initial costs will be covered.

As well as looking to provide extended work placements with employers, Care in the Garden also attempts to help those with learning difficulties set up their own businesses. An example of someone who has been helped to become his own boss is 25-year-old Dan Sparrow., who has been set up as a garden decorator. Dan paints patios, sheds and garage doors. He has been supported in his enterprise by a retired painter and decorator.

Care in the Garden grows an amazing range of beautiful plants at wholesale prices. It offers spring and autumn bedding and basket plants, plus a great variety of perennials and grasses. Gifts may be picked up here all year round, including beautiful wreaths and floral displays for Christmas.

The nursery supplies not only plants, but also a wide range of other useful services. ​These include a wide range of wood products made on site, such as planters and benches. 

The garden centre also includes a veg shed, selling a variety of fresh fruit and veg in season. Blossoms Floristry is the latest venture, and it is always worth popping round to see the frequently changing selection of flower arrangements and find out what is available to buy. Last but not least are the mower men, a great team who love to get out and about to tend your lawns, and who take great pride in doing a good job.

Clients of Care in the Garden are not only using their trainees as an act of social responsibility, they also do so because they are capable of doing a good job of work. A number of councils on the Island have used their services to brighten up their town and have been well satisfied with the standard of work provided. The quality of their service is evidenced by testimonials provided. For example, East Cowes Town Council wrote to thank Care in the Garden for the exceptional displays of flowers in the troughs and planters, which members of the public had described as ‘stunning’.

Colin Clarke
Author: Colin Clarke