Joe Swift, designer of Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville, has written a wonderful piece for the March issue of Gardeners’ World Magazine detailing how the beautiful garden was brought to life and what the extraordinary project means to him.
The article is aptly titled ‘My Recipe for Wellbeing’, which tells the story of how Joe came to be involved with the charity and gently illustrates how Horatio’s Garden is improving the lives of everyone affected by spinal injury across the UK.
As Joe was aware of both Horatio’s Garden Salisbury and Horatio’s Garden Scotland, he writes that although daunted he couldn’t help but agree to design our third garden for patients spending time in the National Spinal Injuries Centre.
The article describes the design process from start to finish, detailing the initial challenges such as having to remove 2,000 tonnes of soil to ensure that the garden was totally flat. Joe writes that he spent weeks fine turning the designs too, in order to ensure every single element had been carefully considered. This meant thinking about the garden from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair or bed, whilst also ensuring that the view of the garden from the ward was equally calming.
All these factors informed both his final design and his planting choices, which feature many sensory and colourful varieties to provide year-round interest. A selection of his thoughtfully chosen plants form the basis of his advice for creating your own Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville inspired pot, whilst the article also gives Joe’s five top tips for how to enhance your gardens to maximise wellbeing.
We are so grateful to Joe for featuring the charity in this month’s issue and are as overwhelmed as he is to see the garden being appreciated by so many people every day.
“To see patients and their loved ones enjoying and engaging with the space I designed it both humbling and extremely rewarding. It’s the most important garden I’ve ever designed and it’s been a huge privilege to be involved with Horatio’s Garden.”