Horatio’s Garden is a charity that creates and lovingly cares for beautiful accessible gardens in NHS spinal injury centres.
Leading garden designers develop the stunning sanctuaries for patients, creating an environment which becomes an integral part of their lives, as well as those of families and friends, whilst spending many months in hospital.
Spinal cord injuries are traumatic, life-changing events. Patients often have little or no access to the outside world during their hospital stay. However, research shows that being in contact with a natural environment contributes to an improved sense of wellbeing, which can have a positive impact on patient rehabilitation.
The charity’s volunteer teams, led by the head gardeners, keep the gardens looking beautiful, help run activities for patients and contribute to the happy, uplifting atmosphere which permeates each Horatio’s Garden. All our volunteers share an enjoyment of being in the gardens; some are former patients and some are young ‘Volunteens’ seeking life experiences.
Horatio’s Garden provides patients with somewhere to find much-needed solace in an oasis of planting, even if on bed rest; the garden is accessible for all. Patients can take part in gentle rehabilitation activities in the gardens organised by the charity, including garden therapy, art therapy and music events.
An essential part of the atmosphere in the gardens is created by the sharing of cups of tea and homemade cakes with patients, family or friends, volunteers and staff. Our gardens are places where positive conversation and kindness is central.
“The first time I went into the garden I was overwhelmed with tears and a sense of relief and excitement that there was somewhere to go other than the ward.”
The charity’s head gardeners, assisted by volunteers, run regular garden therapy sessions with patients in collaboration with the hospitals’ occupational therapy teams. Patients enjoy the purposeful activities which gardening offers for rehabilitation.
Patient-specific therapeutic and rehabilitative goals are set which focus on maximising social, cognitive, physical and psychological functioning to enhance general health and wellness.
Weather permitting, sessions are run outside and engage patients in all aspects of plant cultivation using specialist tools. Nothing is left to
waste – we eat, re-use and sell our produce which adds to patients’ feelings of purpose, pride and achievement.
Equipped with new skills, many patients return home with a new or renewed passion for gardening.
“It gives patients the opportunity to see themselves in a community and this helps them prepare for when they leave the spinal unit.” – Dr. Fard, Consultant in Spinal Injuries.
Garden therapy sessions take place in each Horatio's Garden. Led by the charity's garden therapists and supported by volunteers, they offer patients the chance to improve on, or learn new gardening skills. The activities can help to improve patients' physical dexterity and mental wellbeing, as well as giving them a sense of achievement. Garden therapy afternoons are social occasions with patients' families and friends joining in too.
Every Horatio's Garden has bed- and wheelchair-accessible greenhouses that enable patients and volunteers to grow and cultivate herbs, salad leaves, vegetables and flowers. They also offer delicate plants shelter from the elements.
Horatio’s Garden provides patients with somewhere to find much-needed solace in a stunning natural environment. Even if on bed rest, the gardens are accessible for all. Leaving the ward to go out into the garden and enjoy fresh air in a safe and beautiful environment enhances the wellbeing of patients who spend months in hospital.
Each garden has a Head Gardener and many volunteers, as well as a plethora of different visitors who all work together to enrich the patients' experiences during their time in hospital. This includes artists, musicians and people running events and activities such as the 'Looking Out' projects.
A welcome and essential part of each Horatio’s Garden is tea and homemade cake. Each garden has a fully accessible and well-stocked garden room where patients can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, a piece of cake and a chat. The garden rooms are also places to meet other patients, invite friends and family, or to just sit in to read a book or newspaper. Volunteers regularly bake delicious treats for the patients and visitors.
Time away from the ward in an informal and relaxing setting can be very beneficial, as patients are often in hospital for long periods of time. Of those who visit the garden at least once a week, nearly half visit every day or more.
“Thank you for the cakes and drinks, you all make everyone feel included and special.”
One of the main focus points of every Horatio's Garden is the delicious homemade cakes provided by volunteers and tea. Giving patients the opportunity to enjoy the garden and relax beyond the ward is vital to their mental recovery. The kitchen facilities are made to be fully accessible to those in wheelchairs to enable them to have a safe space to invite friends and visitors to enjoy a cup of tea.
"The kitchen facilities are a wonderful and very valuable asset. I make a coffee every day." - A Patient at Horatio's Garden Scotland.
Designer Emma Bridgewater kindly created these mugs exclusively for Horatio's Garden. They come in two sizes and two different designs, both available to buy via our online shop. http://shop.horatiosgarden.org.uk/
The team of volunteer bakers always ensure there are plenty of delicious homemade cakes available for patients and visitors to enjoy.
“They’re wonderful and so kind. Sometimes I come down feeling very low and they give me coffee and cake.” - A Patients Opinion on the Volunteers
Each Garden has a fully accessible garden room with tea and coffee making facilities and volunteers on hand to help, if needed.
“The garden is good for patients’ mental health and well-being. It also has functional benefits as patients must work out how to get there and this - along with activities in Horatio’s Garden - is good for their rehabilitation" - Dr. Fard, Consultant in Spinal Injuries in Glasgow.
Each year we invite an artist to put on an exhibition in the gardens. Throughout the summer months different artists in residence draw and paint alongside patients in the gardens. Often patients get involved and start painting themselves. A ‘Looking Out’ project, run by artist in residence Miranda Creswell in Salisbury, has culminated in pictures featuring an ordnance survey map of the view from the patient’s room and the many features that make up the view. This project has been extended to the second Horatio’s Garden in Glasgow.
Twice yearly there are also sculpture exhibitions, which give the gardens a new dimension. Patients get the opportunity to meet the artists and experience thought-provoking art on a daily basis. Ben Barrell’s installation in the garden in Salisbury during 2018 was immensely popular. Other sculptors’ work we have exhibited include Mark Coreth, David Worthington, Rebecca Newnham, Simon Gudgeon, Fiamma Colonna-Montagu, Sean Henry, Bruce Munro and Julian Wild.
Throughout the year different artists and sculptors display their work in the gardens. This is part of Fiamma Colonna-Montagu's work displayed in Horatio's Garden Salisbury in Summer 2017.
Horatio's Garden is place for everyone to enjoy, all year round - even if the weather isn't always quite as lovely as this!
In 2018 Ben Barrell brought some of his fantastic sculptures to Horatio's Garden Salisbury. They were incredibly popular with both patients and visitors, and provided stunning centrepieces among the planting. We are immensely grateful for his support.
No matter what season, the gardens always look gorgeous. This photo was taken early in the morning in January 2017 at Horatio's Garden Salisbury, featuring one of Simon Gudgeon's remarkable sculptures.