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June 29 2020

coronavirus update: horatio’s garden oswestry

Another month of 2020 has passed in the blink of an eye, which means we have more stories for you from each of our beautiful gardens around the UK. 

Whilst lots of you reading this will know how important outdoor spaces are for everyone’s health and wellbeing, this year has truly placed the value of nature at the forefront of our collective consciousness. Just as your gardens, local parks, allotments and window boxes will have brought a little joy to your life, Horatio’s Garden has been there to do the same for patients and NHS staff. 

To the latest news from Salisbury, Scotland and Stoke Mandeville, please click the respective links. 

Both Head Gardener Imogen Jackson and the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries NHS team felt that the summer solstice was the perfect excuse for a party in the garden and they certainly pulled out all the stops! 

The Midsummer event was certainly made special, with personalised invitations handed out to everyone in the spinal centre to give them an insight into what the afternoon had in store. Lots of patients were immediately enthusiastic and thankfully the weather was kind for the weekend’s celebrations! 

The afternoon began with a light lunch and bagpipe performance, which was courtesy of Andy Young, who stood on the bank just outside the garden in order to keep a social distance from patients in the garden. The uplifting sounds echoed throughout the garden and got the afternoon off to a wonderful start, providing the perfect introduction to the poetry and storytelling portion of the afternoon. Simon Airey led by telling various tales, whilst volunteer Thelma shared her favourite verses via Zoom to entertain patients and staff alike. The warm, welcoming atmosphere evidently put everyone at ease, encouraging a few patients to perform without any preparation too. 

The afternoon came to a close with an Egyptian dance performance by Head Gardener Imogen, whilst the MCSI team took the time to recreate a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the onlooking audience. Everyone felt that the afternoon was a real treat and it was lovely to be able to see patients and staff chatting calmly and laughing in the sunshine. 


Patients were also involved in the preparation for the MCSI performance, as Head Gardener Imogen led small floral headdress making workshops as part of the week’s garden therapy sessions. Naturally, these produced beautiful results and were particularly appreciated by patients currently working to improve their hand function. 

Similarly, creating and tending to hanging baskets has continued to be popular with patients, particularly Rob and Mark. The two have become firm friends throughout their time spent together in the garden, with Mark sharing that deadheading helps to calm his mind, whilst Rob finds the garden to be a “wonderful asset”. 

The spinal centre staff continue to make use of the garden whenever they can, not only for the good of patients but also to support their own health and wellbeing. Patients and staff can often be found together in Horatio’s Garden, either for specific appointments, or to simply do fun activities, like a recent Treasure Hunt, that allow them to get to know each other a little more informally. 

Similarly, many patients are simply enjoying being brought out in their hospital beds to the garden, whether that’s to call family and friends quietly or to simply feel the warmth of the sunshine on their face. With a sprig of lavender on her pillow, one particular lady commented, “I love being able to smell the flowers and the lavender. I can’t wait to be able to sit up a little so I can see the garden better, but for now, this is wonderful!”

We have also begun to welcome volunteers back to the garden, who have happily started re-establishing relationships with lots of patients from a safe social distance too. It’s lovely to see a few more purple polo shirts dotted around and their friendly, familiar presence is already making a real difference to everyone spending time in Horatio’s Garden. 

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