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November 16 2021

cop26 and our scotland garden

Whilst sustainability has always been at the heart of Horatio’s Garden, COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference held from 31st November – 12th November 2021, has inspired even more action in our garden in Glasgow, within the charity as a whole and in the world beyond. 

As Horatio’s Garden Scotland is situated in the city where COP26 was taking place, the sanctuary naturally became the charity’s COP26 focal point throughout the two-week summit. During that time, we had the privilege of welcoming some special visitors, whilst patients and volunteers remained at the heart of all the proceedings thanks to Head Gardener Sallie Sillars and Garden Administrator Yvonne Gleeson. 

Throughout the first week, patients enthusiastically partook in horticultural therapy sessions with Sallie, which were all about sharing sustainability knowledge and harnessing the power we have to make a difference by making small, personal changes. 

Together, Sallie and various people spending time in The Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit (QENSIU) planted up Tete-a-Tete Daffodils for Christmas, all of which were carefully placed in terracotta pots containing Dalefoot’s wonderful peat free bulb compost.


Meanwhile, others prepared a vast selection of Ocean Plastic Pots for the garden’s upcoming houseplant hospital, all of which were generously donated by the company. Having won The RHS Chelsea Flower Show Sustainable Garden Product of the Year Award 2021, everyone was thrilled to be working with their innovative product, with the pots made entirely from plastic waste and discarded fishing nets collected and recycled from our beaches and oceans. 

Alongside gardening, there was plenty for those feeling artistically-inclined to try too. Many people enjoyed gathering natural materials from the garden to create artworks of the natural landscapes which hold meaning for them, a creative and calming activity that resulted in some beautiful, environmentally friendly pieces.


All this and more caught the interest of climate scientist and activist Jennifer Newall, who was the first COP26 guest to arrive in our Scottish haven and who kindly took time out of her busy schedule to come to see us. 

Jen got in touch with the charity via Instagram and generously shared that she has a personal connection with the charity, something which made her afternoon in Horatio’s Garden particularly poignant. Having been on Horatio Chapple’s expedition to Svalbard, he’s been a source of inspiration to Jen in everything she’s done throughout the past 10 years. Echoing her sentiments, Horatio’s legacy is therefore helping to change lives both within each Horatio’s Garden and out in the wider world.


Having recently established Sustain Lifestyles, which is all about working to inform and inspire people to shift towards a way of life that doesn’t threaten our own existence, Jen was delighted to see the steps we’ve taken so far in Horatio’s Garden. She also plans to volunteer and work with us for the foreseeable, helping us and countless others towards a better future. 

Whilst in the garden, Jen did a beautiful performance of Colours in the Wind by Alan Menken & Stephen Laurence Schwartz and recited the poem If by Rudyard Kipling, two pieces that mean a great deal to her. 

Please click here to watch Jen Newall’s Performance of Colours in the Wind

The words of both capture her feelings regarding the need to save our planet and as for COP26, Jen simply said:

“It’s just so nice to be sharing my experience of COP26. The energy in Glasgow has been amazing and the most important, hopeful message is that now we take things into our own hands and work together to make a massive, vital difference.” 

We’re so grateful to Jen for all she’s done to help us so far and if you’re interested in hearing more from her, you can follow her on Instagram by clicking here. It’s certainly going to be exciting to see what the next few months of our budding new partnership hold. 

Lots has been happening following the close of the climate conference too, largely thanks to the arrival of a huge number of generously donated COP26 plants in need of a new home!

We were incredibly fortunate to be one of five main charities approached by Tom Montgomery of Garden Design London to take the plants, something that Head Gardener Sallie and the whole team saw as an opportunity that was simply too good to resist.

Tom delivered the extraordinary array himself and it wasn’t long before Sallie and our brilliant volunteers busied themselves with settling them into their new spots. The tropical varieties were the team’s top priority, with the selection already greening up our new garden room. They soon moved onto repotting some of the succulents to create fresh arrangements too, whilst the rest will soon be thriving in patient-made kokedamas and within our planned living picture wall.


The vast selection of fabulous ferns, including those of a Boston variety, will be nestled into the garden pods and as they’re renowned for being office pollution eaters, Sallie’s also going to offer some to NHS staff working on the ward.


With so many intriguing plants arriving, there’s certainly going to be plenty of fun to be had by everyone over the coming weeks and with the garden’s Christmas Fayre looming, much of the greenery is also destined to be gifted to the loved ones of patients and staff alike. 

And as if that wasn’t enough, there are still some stunning acer trees to follow, with their placement currently being pondered by the garden’s original designer, James Alexander-Sinclair! 

We are so grateful to everyone who’s supported us throughout these two weeks and beyond. 

COP26 might have come to an end, but this is just the beginning. 

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