I interviewed Gary Strickland, the Head Gardener at this wonderful community garden in West Lockinge, in honour of World Parkinson's Day.


Today is the 27th World Parkinson's Day, and birds chirp as I sit on one of the benches in this local oasis, enveloped by the warming sun.


This ethereal and peaceful garden was initially created between 2016 and 2018, for people with Parkinson's who needed to exercise as the condition can cause problems like involuntary shaking and stiffness. Since then, the garden has evolved into something much more. It has become an inspiring space for community activities such as the local choir's practice, KA's students volunteering as part of their DofE, families out on walks, hikers stopping for a lunchbreak, children playing on the ping pong table, or simply to relax and socialise here. This isn't just for people with Parkinson’s but is open every day to anyone! 


This garden is admirably entirely run by volunteers! And donations from the plant sale table near the entrance funds the garden. With support from the local community and volunteers, they have transformed the unused land on the Ardington Estate into a thriving garden.


Mike Ayre, chair of the charity, praises Gary as "the person who has brought the garden together and made it what it is today." He is one of many dedicated volunteer trustees for the charity and the passionate Head Gardener.


The BBC Gardener's world appearance in 2019, which was dedicated to gardening for health, has brought to the public's attention that green open spaces are essential, as Gary insists, “they definitely reboost you.” This small charity especially got a sense of this during COVID, when people used the garden as their daily exercise: to revitalise. I was one of many regular visitors that benefitted and appreciated the garden during this challenging time. They even have a small pilot scheme in June with Wantage GPs in prescribing green open spaces as alternative treatment!


Everything in the garden is in harmony, from the seating to the sensory garden to the vegetable patch. The charity is immensely pleased with attracting students from Charlton Primary School and the local cub pack, as they love encouraging the next generation of enthusiastic gardeners.


This garden continues to expand and grow much like the plants it nurtures. There are exciting spring/summer goals for installing a composting toilet in the garden, a company volunteering day on Friday 12th May, coffee mornings, and a summer party planned for July.


This local charity Parkinsons.me has clearly made a big difference to the community in establishing this garden, through enhancing wellbeing and creating a retreat of serenity and flora. And with spring already flourishing, I have to encourage passers-by to step in and enjoy the daffodils, tulips, fritillaries, euphorbias, and bluebells in bloom this April. And even to look forward to May, which will bring a whole new host of colour from the Solomon's seal, aquilegias, alliums, and lilies!


This truly is a paradise.