patient curtis fraser interviewed for the telegraph

Some of you will remember Curtis Fraser, who generously shared his story with all of us back in February having discovered Horatio’s Garden London & South East soon into his stay at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre (LSCIC). 

Now, we’re delighted to see that his tale is having an impact on a national scale, as this weekend he featured in a new piece for The Telegraph entitled ‘How Gardening Saved My Life’ by Morgan Lawrence.

To read the full article, please click here
(Please note that the piece is unfortunately behind The Telegraph paywall)

Reporting on recent research carried out by Natural England, in partnership with University of Exeter and the Royal Horticultural Society, the article details that whilst the positive psychological benefits of gardening have long been known to gardeners, it is now something that is being increasingly investigated and substantiated by the scientific community. 

As the piece acknowledges, lockdown has led to the worthwhile effects of the natural world coming into considerably sharper focus. In turn, people are more interested than ever to discover how green spaces can help both themselves and others, particularly in instances whereby those gardening have faced personal struggles. 

Curtis is one such individual and the new piece sees him featuring alongside three other inspirational gardeners, who have all had their lives changed for the better, against all odds, by gardening.

Curtis in the snow Curtis in Greenhouse 

He was interviewed especially for the piece, with Head Gardener Ashley Edwards also sharing a how incredible it’s been to watch Curtis’ progress in the two’s one-to-one horticultural therapy sessions. 

The short piece ends with Curtis mentioning how he frequently tells his fellow patients to visit the garden, who have unanimously returned to confirm the unique difference it’s made to their own health and wellbeing. Indeed, he believes little pockets of greenery hold hope for everyone, with Morgan artfully finishing the piece with Curtis’ greatest piece of advice: 

“The garden helped my recovery so much. Even for a little moment, I’d tell people to visit one. It can clear your mind.” 

We’re delighted to see Curtis’ thoughtful words and story reaching a new audience and are enormously grateful to Morgan Lawrence and The Telegraph for making this possible.

ashley edwards returns to bbc radio 4’s gardeners’ question time

With the first Narcissi starting to fade, Head Gardener Ashley thoughtfully decided to help everyone become a dab hand at deadheading in his latest BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time segment. 

To listen again on BBC Sounds, please click here 

You’ll find Ashley’s piece approximately 13 minutes and 24 seconds into the recording. 

Fortunately, not every flower needs deadheading, but as Ashley will tell you, it’s important to tend to those that do. Not only does it help to keep your borders, beds and containers looking attractive, it’s also a brilliant way to direct energy to the bulb and ensure that your blooms return with strength, vigor and plenty of flowers next year. 

Recording in Horatio’s Garden London & South East, Ashley’s words of widsom guide you through how to deadhead, whilst he also tells us more about what to deadhead and when it’s a good time to embark on the task. 

It’s a simple way to spend a spring afternoon outside amongst nature and as it isn’t too tricky, there’s an opportunity for the whole family to get involved. Whether you’re eight, or eighty, a seasoned gardener or a budding beginner, deadheading is a definitely the place to start this April! 

easter celebrations in horatio’s garden

Despite there being a slight spring chill in the air, plenty of people ventured to Horatio’s Garden to celebrate the spirit of the season whilst basking in glorious sunshine this past Easter weekend.

Each of our gardens across the UK enjoyed filling a few days with various culinary and horticultural indulgenceswhich naturally included lots of chocolate eggs, homemade cakes and a plethora of beautiful blooms! 

All our volunteers went above and beyond for the long weekend, not only by visiting the gardens to keep patients and staff companybut by working away behind the scenes at home to bring baked delights and cute crafts to life. All their efforts were enormously appreciated by everyone in Horatio’s Garden, bringing joy to people as they made the most of nature in all its Eastertide glory.

The revelry began with the Horatio’s Garden Poetry group on Thursday 1st April, with the apt theme of April Fools and, of course, Easter. The Zoom gathering was great fun, with the session simply being an opportunity for patients, volunteers, staff and anybody in the Horatio’s Garden network to have an amusing get together with some poems (famous, unknown, penned by the group’s members or otherwise) featured for good measure! 

Every garden then began to while away the weekend in their own way, with Easter Egg Hunts, creative crafts and innovative floriculture all putting in an appearance. 

Thanks to the support of the Recreation Assistants of the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre, Horatio’s Garden South West was able to welcome 16 patients for an Easter Egg Hunt. Head Gardener Stephen was there too to capture the action and was thrilled to discover that remarkably not all the eggs were found – definitely a perk of the job and a mark of a well curated hunt! 

Everyone had a brilliant time, just as they did in Horatio’s Garden Scotland, Stoke Mandeville, Midlands and London & South East. The traditional Easter trees adorned every garden room, including Horatio’s Garden South West, along with plenty of floral displays which comprised of Narcissi, Chionodoxa luciliaePuschkinia scilloides, violas and many more sprightly spring bulbs.


Lots of patients visited the gardens to spend time creating their own decorations too, with Easter wreath and willow nest making being among the most popular workshops in Horatio’s Garden Scotland and Horatio’s Garden London. In the former, patients also had the opportunity to decorate wooden bird templates, attempt some origami rabbit creation and capture floral imprints in air-dried clay, whilst in the latter, potting up seasonal plants also formed part of the relaxed Bank Holiday atmosphere. 

In the Midlands, the merriment followed a similar theme, with people taking the warmer weather as their cue to pop to the garden even more than usual. Many safely joined in with some seasonal seed sowing, whilst others painted their own colourful creations to take the essence of spring with them wherever they go. 

Appreciating the delight to be found in every handcrafted Easter delicacy (whether edible or not!) was certainly the common thread running through the weekend, a sentiment perhaps most evident when children spending time in the paediatric ward in Stoke Mandeville received their Easter chicks, hand-knitted by volunteer Sally and friend of volunteer Judy, Elizabeth. Complete with a chocolate egg, the creatures brought a big smile to the faces of children and adults alike, just as Horatio’s Garden Scotland’s thoughtful ‘Sweet Treat Gift Bags’ cheered everyone’s mood in the north.

NHS staff too had the chance to take home a little Eastertime token from Horatio’s Garden London & South East, as the team held their first small plant sale to support the running costs of the garden. Alongside willow nests, pretty planters and lavender bags, all of which were made by patients and volunteers, were some new novel additions brought to the table by volunteer Terry. Having artfully repurposed his old mugs by planting them up with succulents and house plants, we’re certain his creations will be in demand nationally once word spreads!


We hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend too, whether you were out and about, doing a bit of baking, pottering in your own garden, or simply resting and relishing the arrival of those long-awaited rays.  

If you would like to join the Horatio’s Garden Poetry Group, please email Debs Grigg via or call 01722 326 834

stephen hackett features on the roots and all podcast

As another lovely long weekend came to a close, we were delighted to discover that there was one more treat awaiting everyone on Easter Monday, as Head Gardener Stephen Hackett featured in the bank holiday episode of Roots and All. 

Please click here to listen, or simply pop over to your podcast platform of choice 

The award-winning podcast features the world’s most expert guests covering all topics of gardening, from flowers, to trees, to soil science, to design and so on. It’s all about helping people to create spaces that have a positive impact, not only on you as a person, but on all the living organisms involved in making or sharing them. 

Each episode aims to focus on low intensity, sustainable gardening, with the specific and noble intention of advising people on how they can achieve the perfect garden whilst working in tandem with nature. 

As the Roots and All mission is one that we share, Head Gardener Stephen was only too happy to chat with host Sarah Wilson about how we try to put some of this into practice. 

Together the two discussed the charity’s story and how we’ve grown throughout the past 10 years to become a national organisation, with particular emphasis on Horatio’s Garden South West being that this is the garden Stephen nurtures and incidentally is where our work began. 

Stephen was sure to mention that the stunning sanctuary was designed by the brilliant Cleve West, with the help of patients, NHS staff and, of course, Horatio Chapple’s original ideas. He offered listeners an insight into how the garden benefits everyone visiting the haven, whether they’re a patient engaging in the charity’s horticultural and creative workshops, family and friends visiting a loved one in hospital, or indeed NHS staff simply in need of a respite from the pressures of the ward. 

It was particularly interesting to hear Stephen say a little more about the wonderful, exciting challenge of taking care of a garden from both a therapeutic and horticultural perspective. He speaks of the way in which visiting the other Horatio’s Garden projects in Scotland, Stoke Mandeville, Oswestry and London always helps to spark inspiration and that together the Head Gardeners are eternally sharing their bright ideas to ensure the gardens are at their very best for everyone. 

Towards the end of Stephen’s chat with Sarah, she asks him what the most rewarding part of working in Horatio’s Garden South West is, but if you want to unearth the answer, you’ll have to give the episode a listen! 

We’re enormously grateful to the Roots and All team for including us and hope Stephen’s episode encourages you to recapture the bank holiday spirit and get back to nature.

horatio’s garden feature in rnoh articulate magazine

It was lovely to see Horatio’s Garden featured in the March edition of Articulate magazine, which goes to all staff members of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH), Stanmore. 

To read the full article on pages 26-27, please click here 

The article was all about introducing the wider hospital community to the impact our London & South East garden has had and the positive benefits enjoyed by patients since the opening of the sanctuary last September. 

The feature did so by sharing Curtis’ story, as well as by including a few additional insights from patients Nina and Barry. 

Since his arrival at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre, Curtis has visited Horatio’s Garden every day and it wasn’t long before he discovered the delights to be found growing the greenhouse. This sparked his interest in gardening and he began to join Head Gardener Ashley for one-to-one horticultural therapy sessions. These have not only improved his mental wellbeing, but have also helped him to regain movement in his hands.

Curtis Sowing Seeds in Greenhouse Nina with her Cushion

As the piece mentions, Curtis spends time in the garden safely alongside plenty of other patients, with readers meeting Nina and Barry too. 

Nina has embraced every element of the garden, planting tomatoes and various other seeds with Head Gardener Ashley, however her passion project is creating cushions. She’s been crafting her collection with Garden Administrator, Tracey McCarthy, using raw silk and a sewing machine and plans to take her bright and beautiful furnishings home with her soon. 

Meanwhile, Barry has impressed everyone with both his greenfingered and creative skill, particularly when he ran up a silk lavender bag in record time! 

We are grateful to the RNOH for embracing Horatio’s Garden so enthusiastically and know there will be many more stories to come in the haven’s next chapter. 

ashley edwards to appear on the charterhouse ‘ask the gardeners’ panel

Following the success of The Charterhouse’s online ‘Flower Power’ festival last year, this April they’ll be hosting a one night only spin off they’re calling ‘Ask the Gardeners’. 

Our very Head Gardener of Horatio’s Garden London & South East, Ashley Edwards, will be there, along with Kate Robinson, Head Gardener of The Charterhouse, Sarah Whiting of Nettlewood Flowers and Charlotte Muswell of Boma Garden Centre. 

From 6:30pm – 7:30pm on the evening of Thursday 22nd April, you will have the chance to put your pressing horticultural conundrums to the experts and gather some answers that will help your flora to flourish this season and beyond. 

Whilst Kate manages the lovely walled gardens at The Charterhouse, planting them with colour and interest throughout the seasons, Sarah is a flower expert, Charlotte is a houseplant specialist and Ashley knows how to create and nurture a garden that offers calm, comfort and beauty to all who enter it. With such a wealth of diverse experience between them, all queries and questions are welcome! 

Tickets cost £5 and are available now, so please click here to book yours. 

If you have a question, you will be asked to submit this in advance as part of the booking process. 

We’re delighted to once again be working with The Charterhouse and can’t wait to enjoy an hour of gardening talk and expertise with all of you. 

joe swift shares our stoke mandeville story with the royal windsor rose & horticultural society

Award-winning garden designer and beloved presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World, Joe Swift, recently joined the Royal Windsor Rose & Horticultural Society (RWRHS) to give an online talk all about the creation and build of Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville. 

Describing the sanctuary as ‘the most important garden I’ve ever designed, Joe was only too happy to share the charity’s story with listeners, offering his personal insights into the innate connection between horticulture, health and rehabilitation. 

The webinar gathered a great deal of interest from both members and non-members of the RWRHS, with numerous attendees sharing that they really appreciated being able to learn from and listen to Joe’s experiences, both in Horatio’s Garden and in many a green space beyond. As always, Joe was enormously engaging and everyone enjoyed spending a Tuesday evening in his enthusiastic company. 

The RWRHS were thrilled to host the event too, generously offering people the opportunity to donate to the charity as they discovered more about our work. As a society that brings together gardeners, bakers and crafters in the local community, plenty of people were eager to hear more about Horatio’s Garden, continuing the society’s 129-year tradition of warmly welcoming anyone sharing their interests. 

It’s wonderful to know that a growing number of people are becoming passionate about what we do and that awareness is increasingly being raised regarding the physical and mental health benefits of our organic environments. 

We are so grateful to Joe for giving such an inspirational talk and to the Royal Windsor Rose & Horticultural Society for hosting and helping us to introduce Horatio’s Garden to a new gathering of growers!

evie redwood guides us through monoprinting with nature

Some of you will recognise the artist behind today’s Arty Afternoon video as Evie Redwood, our very own Arts Programme Coordinator! 

To watch and be inspired, please click on the ‘Play’ button below 

Evie Redwood's Video 

Evie joined Horatio’s Garden at the beginning of March, with her position funded by The Rank Foundation’s brilliant Time to Shine programme. Despite this only being her third week in her new role, already Evie has been busy putting her creative talents to wonderful use and has proven to be a lovely, thoughtful addition to the team. 

As someone who has always enjoyed art, Evie decided to study the subject at college and then proceeded to take her learning further by completing her degree at Arts University Bournemouth. She is currently settled in the very same seaside town, where she continues to create socially engaged work, which is frequently inspired by her simply taking the time to talk to people. 

Alongside working across different mediums herself, from print and film, to photography and sound, Evie also has an interest in the relationship between arts and wellbeing and is passionate about offering everyone the opportunity to pursue creativity. 

This, combined with her love of the sea, beach and all things natural, made Evie the perfect fit for the charity and also informed her video, which focusses on monoprinting with materials which can be found just beyond your front door. 

Having been inspired by Clare Baskerville’s sustainable art video last week, Evie decided to visit Horatio’s Garden South West to collect a variety of foliage so that she could experiment with printing each spring, twig and leaf. 

Her gentle video guides everyone through how to print, the bits and bobs you need, how long your prints need to dry and, most importantly, a host of ideas as to how you can share your work with those closest to you. 

As Evie will tell you, texture plays a crucial part in monoprinting, something she considered when exploring our garden in Salisbury for elements she could use in her work. 

Nevertheless, the process of monoprinting is all about experimenting, whether that be with the colour of your ink, different kinds of paper, or with the items you’ve collected. For Evie and for everyone who gives it a go, it’s simply an opportunity to explore a myriad of possibilities whilst having fun with working out which materials produce your desired results. 

Over time and as you become familiar with monoprinting, you can use all that you’ve learned from this process of trial and error to inform your printing, becoming ever more imaginative with your patterns along the way. 

“There’s no right or wrong way to do this,” Evie shares and we think you’ll agree that it’s both calming and intriguing in equal measure to see where her exploration takes her. 

We’re so grateful to Evie for taking the time to create her Arty Afternoon and it’s a delight to be able to share it with all of you too!

our first site visit of the year to horatio’s garden wales!

This month marked our very first site visit of the year to Horatio’s Garden Wales! 

Together award-winning designer, Sarah Price, her colleague Emma, and Project Manager, Owen Hemmings of the Robert Lombardelli Partnership, went to safely visit the space at the Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre in University Hospital Llandough, which is being transformed into a horticultural haven as we speak.

Digger in Horatio's Garden Wales 

This is the fourth Horatio’s Garden to be overseen by Owen’s considered eye and heSarah and Emma spent a brilliant day properly exploring all the latest developments at the site. They were delighted with the progress that’s been made so far and enjoyed sharing a selection of highlights from their day in Cardiff. 

Most importantly, the landscape and its foundations are now level, which was a huge task as the garden is being built on reclaimed ground. Being raised, this also means that the garden will be encircled by subtle fencing to ensure people’s safety, which was all in situ by the time the team visited. Each piece artfully frames the view surrounding the hospital, which includes a rolling field destined to become a community orchard in the not-too-distant future, with glimpses of the sea visible in the horizon beyond.

Building in Cardiff Fence in Horatio's Garden Wales

Our Founder & Chair of Trustees, Dr Olivia Chapple, recently shared that watching Sarah develop her designs is akin to “seeing an artist at work”. With the sanctuary now truly starting to take shape, we therefore thought it would be nice to share more about Sarah’s charming creation. 

From the outset, Sarah was passionate about incorporating as many elements of the winsome Welsh landscape into the garden as possible, despite the space being the smallest of our gardens to date. 

She has thus devoted different spaces to different sources of horticultural inspiration, meaning that Horatio’s Garden Wales will be home to a moss garden, shed garden, scented garden, meadow garden, vegetable garden, flower garden and the ‘orchard hall’. Sarah coined the phrase for the latter, with it becoming her gentle way of referring to the area that will soon be full of flourishing multi-stemmed crab trees and amelanchier. 

As the name suggests, the shed garden will be where our Head Gardener’s shed and office will be, although the building will naturally be a little more than your average outhouse! Sarah is creating it and plans for it to be built using timber and corrugated steel, capturing the aesthetic and spirit of the buildings peppered across rural Wales. 

Meanwhile, whilst the meadow garden will be explorative, loose and wild, the flower garden will be more structured and will likely become the social hub of the garden, as this is where the pavilion will be situated. 

In addition to a small garden room, Horatio’s Garden Wales will have this new area to ensure that there are plenty of sheltered spaces for patients, their loved ones and NHS staff. It is being designed by architects 6a in collaboration with Sarah and will feature a great deal of glass, with the intention being to allow for a lot of natural light. The pavilion will be homely, with a kitchen area and plenty of seating both inside and on the terrace, which has been created by adorning the pavilion with a vast roof. Consequently, everyone will be able to enjoy a warm cup of tea, homemade cake and feel the fresh air whilst nestled in a secluded spot. 

Finally, no Horatio’s Garden is complete without a Griffin Glasshouse or raised planters! The former will be in a lean-to style, once again echoing historic Welsh architecture, whilst the planters are being developed by the ever-enthusiastic Max Harriman of Tom Stuart-Smith Studio. 

It’s wonderful to be able to share more about Sarah’s thoughtful designs with all of you and it will be a delight to see patients, their families, friends and NHS staff all venturing out into Horatio’s Garden Wales when the project is finished later this year.

the deepest shade of green: an exhibition

Saolta Arts and Galway are pleased to present The Deepest Shade of Greenan Arts and Health programme that’s part of Galway’s European Capital of Culture 2020 celebrations. 

To visit the Saolta Arts website and discover more about this thoughtful, inspirational exhibition, please click here 

Due to the outbreak of Coronavirus last year, the team made the decision to postpone the event and it will now be open from Monday 29th March – Friday 30th April 2021. Whilst the public won’t be able to visit in person as a result of ongoing restrictions, the project’s content will be shared with a vast audience online and there’s the hope that the exhibition will be able to remain in place for staff and patients to see later this summer.

The project is in partnership with Galway University Hospitals and Saolta University Health Care Group (amongst others) and explores the interface between the natural world and the clinical setting; from virtual skylights in Radiology suits, to rooftop farms, to artworks projecting nature onto walls. 

Fundamentally, it’s about foregrounding the importance of connecting our hospitals to the natural world outside and of listening to and learning from those who spend the most time in them. 

As an exhibition, The Deepest Shade of Green features patient and staff testimonials alongside global exemplars of biophilic architecture, commissioned artwork and hospital gardens that are used for both therapy sessions and as a source of fresh produce for patients’ meals. 

With the exposition being an ever-evolving entity, we were recently approached by the Saolta Arts and Galway team, who asked if we would be interested in sharing photographs of each Horatio’s Garden to help support the project. 

Given that the message of the showcase is one we wholeheartedly believe in, we were only too happy to help. The point of the project is to highlight how nature, design and clinical standards can coexist to enhance the hospital experience for everyone and it’s our privilege to be involved with something which is raising awareness of this important sentiment so beautifully. 

Whilst ongoing restrictions as a result of Coronavirus are currently precluding public access to the exhibition, it’s still serving as a research document that’s garnering support for the integration of green spaces in future builds. 

In the wake of the pandemic, the implications of The Deepest Shade of Green are likely to be more apposite than ever and will hopefully show that our hospitals of the future need not be the stark, sterile environments of the past. 

To visit the Saolta Arts website and discover more about this thoughtful, inspirational exhibition, please click here 

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