“Having spent a lifetime playing, watching and supporting rugby, I know having a Horatio’s Garden would have meant a lot to many friends who have experienced spinal injuries whilst playing the beloved game,” says Sir Gareth Edwards, who this week could be found enthusiastically joining in with the mammoth voluntary planting effort underway on the site of the soon-to-open Horatio’s Garden Wales.
The rugby legend and Horatio’s Garden Wales appeal patron is currently appearing in the BBC One Cymru series Gareth Edwards’ Great Welsh Adventure. Whilst his afternoon at University Hospital Llandough in Cardiff was decidedly calmer than his recent rally driving antics, Sir Gareth certainly appeared to enjoy his time supporting the charity just as much, sharing “it is a privilege to be involved in this project.”
Funded entirely by donations, Horatio’s Garden Wales will be the charity’s sixth project to date. After being invited by Cardiff & Vale University Health Board to establish one of our stunning sanctuaries in the capital as part of the University Hospital Llandough redevelopment project, it’s been wonderful to see the site truly starting to take shape.
As many of you will know, Horatio’s Garden Wales has been designed by two-time RHS Chelsea Gold Medal winner Sarah Price and is currently being brought to life at the new, purpose-built Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre, the only spinal centre in the country. The new garden will therefore be there to support people from right across Wales as they physically and mentally adjust to, or care for someone with, life-changing injuries.
“It was an absolute pleasure to see Horatio’s Garden Wales coming alive!” says former patient, Amanda Harris, who is currently navigating all 871 miles of the Welsh Coast Path to raise money for the new garden, along with Rookwood SpUR.
“The team are doing amazing work and the garden will benefit patients in Wales with life-changing injuries for many years to come. The healing power of gardens cannot be underestimated.”
Sir Gareth’s arrival for the start of the soft landscaping phase of the project attracted the attention of ITV News Wales, whilst it also coincided nicely with the arrival of the charity’s newly appointed Head Gardener, Owen Griffiths, who will be responsible for taking care of the garden and supporting everyone spending time in the horticultural haven. He’ll be helped by a growing team of fantastic volunteers, many of whom jumped at the chance to partake in the recent planting and meet Sir Gareth!
It was lovely to meet lots of the new people who will be generously giving up their time for the foreseeable future to support everything happening in Horatio’s Garden Wales, all of whom braved the cold alongside Owen to take up their tools, including a selection kindly donated by Hozelock and Burgon & Ball.
The garden’s award-winning Welsh designer, Sarah Price, also attended, leading the planting event to ensure it totally reflected the designs she carefully developed in close collaboration with current and former patients of the Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Centre, as well as its NHS staff.
“When I’ve spoken to patients, they’ve not only talked about how calming the environment of a garden is, they’ve also talked about it as being a really sociable experience. It’s a place where they almost resume normal life, welcome visitors and family and for a moment you can forget that you’re in hospital.”
As there are only 11 regional NHS spinal injury centres across the UK, the majority of people affected by spinal cord injury face spending upwards of a month in hospital often far from home, their families and their friends.
The garden is therefore destined to be a home away from home, with Sarah’s thoughtful designs both inspired by and incorporating various stunning elements of the Welsh landscape. The sanctuary will be somewhere for people to retreat to and reflect in a quiet moment, whilst it will also enable people to spend quality time with their families, friends and fellow patients away from the clinical environment.
Those enjoying the garden will be able to feel the benefits of nature all-year round too thanks to the garden pavilion. Designed by 6a architects and offering shelter throughout the seasons, this will be the growing, social hub of the garden; a place where patients can enjoy horticultural therapy sessions, creative workshops, live music performances and seasonal events, all of which are run by the charity.
With construction on site progressing every single day thanks to a brilliant team from Knox & Wells, the hope is that the garden will be ready to welcome patients, their loved ones and NHS staff in spring 2022.
To donate, become a volunteer or find out more about Horatio’s Garden Wales, please visit www.horatiosgarden.org.uk/wales or ring Horatio’s Garden on 01722 326834.