Those of you who have read the new interview with our Founder & Chair of Trustees, Dr Olivia Chapple, in Gardens Illustrated may have seen that we have just started beginning to plan our seventh projectHoratio’s Garden Northern Ireland! 

One such reader was David Maxwell, the presenter of the much-loved Gardeners’ Corner programme on BBC Radio Ulster, who we were absolutely delighted to hear from following the article’s publication. 

David got in touch to tell us that he’s been following the charity’s work for some time and that he was thrilled to discover our intention to soon plant hope for people affected by spinal injury from across Northern Ireland.

Children in Stoke Mandeville

As his radio show is one of the station’s most popular programmes and has a vast following on BBC Sounds too, David generously expressed an interest in interviewing Olivia in order to raise awareness of Horatio’s Garden and to introduce the charity’s story to listeners. 

Naturally, Olivia agreed, very much appreciating being given the opportunity talk solely about the project for the first time in the media.

The interview aired on Gardeners’ Corner on Saturday 17th October, but if you missed it, don’t worry – you can catch up here on BBC Sounds! Olivia’s interview begins approximately 45 minutes and 30 seconds into the programme.  

The advent of our seventh garden of course means that a new designer will be joining the blossoming Horatio’s Garden family and we are incredibly pleased to announce that Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland will be brought to life by the acclaimed garden designer, Andy Sturgeon. He is internationally recognised for his timeless, innovative gardens and has won a total of eight RHS Gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, with three of these also being awarded with the coveted accolade of ‘Best in Show’. 

Andy plans to begin developing his concept designs for the garden in the summer of 2021, meaning the capital appeal for Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland will likely be launched around January 2022. Whilst this is still many months away, it’s exciting to be able to set our sights on this powerful new project that will transform people’s lives for many years to come.

Andy Sturgeon

Our Northern Ireland garden will be at The Spinal Cord Injuries Unit (SCIU) which is located in the Withers Building at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast. It is a regional unit with 15 beds and supports patients from across the entirety of Northern Ireland, therefore the garden will be a vital sanctuary for people who are facing long stays in hospital far from home. 

Similarly, Horatio’s Garden will be a haven for patients’ loved ones whenever they visit the spinal centre. It will be a beautiful, calm and comfortable place, where people can talk, enjoy spending time together, and help each other as they adjust to living with life-changing injuries. 

NHS staff will also benefit from the garden, not only because it will provide an additional space for patients’ rehabilitation, but also because everyone working in the spinal centre will be able to retreat here whenever they wish. This could simply be to have lunch with their colleagues, or to quietly think and reflect alone.

Nurse in Oswestry

Each Horatio’s Garden is cared for by a dedicated team of volunteers, who are led by a Head Gardener in each location. They nurture the garden, offer patients and their visitors endless amounts of tea and homemade cake, and support the therapeutic activities run by the charity. These include gardening, art, live music performances, seasonal events and artists’ residencies. 

To date we have opened five gardens in Salisbury, Glasgow, Stoke Mandeville, Oswestry and London, with a sixth project currently underway in Cardiff. All our gardens support people from across vast regions and throughout the Coronavirus crisis have proven to be a real lifeline for people facing extraordinarily difficult times across the country.


Our aim is to bring Horatio’s Garden to all 11 NHS spinal injury in the UK. This new project in Northern Ireland will bring us one step closer to supporting everyone affected by spinal injury and it’s wonderful to know that already we have the support of people like David, who are passionate about sharing the charity and its mission with as many people as possible. 

If you would like to catch up on Olivia’s interview to discover more, please click here to listen to Gardeners’ Corner via BBC Sounds.
The interview begins approximately 45 minutes and 30 seconds into the programme.

To read more about Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland, please click here.