We worked with award-winning garden designer Bunny Guinness to transform the garden around the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries into a beautiful sanctuary for patients and their loved ones.
The garden is the fourth of its kind to open in the UK and it has been wonderful to see Bunny Guinness’ thoughtful designs being brought to life by an incredible team. The project was once again expertly managed by Owen Hemmings of the Robert Lombardelli partnership, whilst Read Construction and Butler Landscapes worked together to ensure the garden became the gentle, welcoming space that Bunny first imagined.
The garden room is a spectacular element of the garden too. It was designed by Andrew Wells of 3W Architecture and features a stunning ceiling painted by artist Martin Rodgers. The garden room and adjacent courtyard form the social hub of the garden, offering patients and visitors the opportunity to gather together in a warm, welcoming environment. The garden also features many secluded areas, where patients can quietly reflect amongst the planting.
It is thanks to the support of many wonderfully generous individuals, donors, businesses and organisations that we have been able to take another step forward on our journey to support everyone affected by spinal injury throughout the UK.
Now that the garden is open, we ask for your continued support. Not only will this help us to tend the garden, it also means we can offer patients the opportunity to be involved in all kinds of events and activities. No donation is too great or too small – anything you can give makes an enormous difference to everyone spending many months in hospital.
“To see our patients enjoy this Garden is the most rewarding sight. It really is heaven.”
Bunny Guinness is well known as a Gardeners’ Question Time panellist on Radio 4 and writer for the Telegraph. Her sensitive designs include a spectacular garden room so patients can enjoy the garden whatever the weather and a fabulous greenhouse within a horticultural therapy area. A social area will provide space for patients to gather and enjoy live music and events hosted by the charity, whilst private areas will offer patients the space to escape and contemplate.
“Hearing from people who have benefited from the other Horatio’s Gardens has inspired me. The gardens provide all the benefits of a beautiful outside space to people who really appreciate them. For the patients, it may well be their first venture into the outside world again, for their friends, families and staff the gardens provide a softer more personable space away from the ward. I am privileged to be involved in this exciting project at Oswestry.”
Bunny Guinness’ designs carefully reflect the needs of patients and their families. The main garden wraps the spinal unit on two sides, with the planting in the existing courtyard areas being enhanced so that all patients’ bedroom windows have a view of nature. The garden is all on one level, with smooth paths throughout ensuring that it is easily accessible to patients in beds and wheelchairs. The essential design features are a social space, private areas for patients to seek solitude or share with a family or friend, flowing water in a rill, a garden room, a garden therapy area, greenhouse, wheelchair skills area and children’s play area.
“This is going to help our patients a lot. It will not only help them in their physical wellbeing but more so in their psychological well being. Once their mind is in a better place, I would expect them to be participating lot better in rehab and it might actually reduce their hospital stay” – Joy Roy Chowdhury, Consultant Surgeon.
Read more about the design HERE
“I have worked in mental health for many years, always using horticulture and the natural environment to help people to improve their mental wellbeing by enabling and encouraging them to connect with nature. I now feel honoured to be a part of the Horatio’s Garden team, to be maintaining such an amazing garden and supporting so many people in the first steps in their journey to a new life. The enormous benefits of the garden to patients, their visitors and NHS staff is undeniable, and I am very proud and delighted to be part of the process.
The garden offers a total escape, a step into another world, for patients whose lives have been turned upside down. It provides a space for privacy, for relaxation, and for the ever changing sights, sounds and scents of nature to work their magic. Being able to empower patients to either continue gardening, or to learn new horticultural skills, as well as to open people’s eyes to a world they may have never noticed before is extremely gratifying, a real privilege.”
Click below to hear more from our Head Gardeners about how to get the best out of your gardens all year round!
Shropshire-based artist Leo Donaghy recently introduced everyone to the art of Chinese brush painting.
The workshop was an opportunity to get to know Leo, who's painting is informed by everything that provokes the senses in some way. Many patients welcomed the chance to try their hand at the new creative technique, with others simply enjoying watching the session whilst having a drink and a chat.
Lots of brilliant artwork was produced as a result of the session and we hope to be able to welcome Leo back in the future!
The horticultural therapy group gathered once again this week on a wonderfully bright day for a spot of flower arranging. None of the patients taking part had ever attempted anything like it before, which made it all the more impressive when each showed a real flair for the art!
The session was brilliantly supported by our volunteer team and our thanks go to local florist, Luna Bloom, for generously donating all the flowers which were eagerly reused.
The garden room was full with patients and volunteers for this month's 'Poetry & Patisseries' workshop, which featured wonderful poetry read by local poet Jeff Phelps. Everyone really engaged with him and the works he referenced, appreciating the opportunity to interact with something of an expert!
The patisseries held a lot of appeal too, of course, and it was agreed that the afternoon was a sweet treat in every respect.
Lots of patients have joined us in the garden room over recent weeks to make their own delicate air plant holders.
Aside from being the perfect paperweight, everyone has appreciated being able to take a little bit of nature back to the ward with them. They are now brightening up many people's bedside tables, which is a lovely sight to see.
Patients and volunteers really enjoyed welcoming Simon Airey to the garden on Thursday 13th February for his intriguing storytelling workshop.
Everyone had the opportunity to get involved, with some proving themselves to be seasoned storytellers, whilst others were simply happy to listen to the tales being told. It was a lovely afternoon and there was, of course, lots of delicious cake indulged in too!
This week patients in Oswestry have enjoyed both painting marimba slates and creating air plant holders, with many of the latter now brightening up patients' bedside tables. As for the former, the slates will soon form a communal marimba, which when played will echo its soothing sound throughout the garden and garden room.
Local percussionist Rick Wilson recently joined us in the garden, working with patients to construct, paint and play a marimba all made from locally-sourced slate.
The workshop was very well-attended by both patients and volunteers and everyone had a humorous time creating music together.
Patients and families have loved joining us in the garden room to watch a few Christmas classics, with the next festive film night planned for Tuesday 17th December.
The garden group has taken on a festive theme again this week, with patients making these beautiful wreaths, as well as potting basil seedlings. The festive greenery was all provided by volunteers and continues to fill the garden room with the gorgeous scent of pine!
We had a wonderful time on Saturday as we welcomed patients, families, friends, NHS staff and local artisans to our first Christmas Fair. There were plenty of unique gifts and plants available, as well as lots of tea and homemade cake which naturally went down very well indeed! We were also treated to a performance by The Angelic Upstarts, which was fabulously festive in every way.
The Horatio’s Garden Oswestry Book Club is now up and running and the first meeting will be held on 28th November in the garden room.
There are audio and large print versions of the books available, so everyone is very welcome to join in with the fun - whether you're a patient, visitor, MCSI staff or a volunteer. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid reader or not – it’s simply an opportunity to enjoy the garden, get to know each other and have a good chat over a hot cup of tea! Let Head Gardener Imogen Jackson know if you would like to attend.
Come along to the garden room on Friday 29th November to find out more from dietician Anthony Twist and Head Gardener Imogen Jackson about healthy eating in a fun interactive workshop.
Patients, families, volunteers and MCSI staff all joined in with the Halloween fun in Horatio's Garden Oswestry, where they held both a party and a spooky film night. A whole host of games were played, plenty of treats were enjoyed and costumes were certainly encouraged!
Everyone is welcome to join us each Friday for a mindfulness session that will calmly explore the natural world in a whole variety of ways, including through taste, sight and touch.
Beginners and experts alike are welcome to join us in the Garden Room on Thursday afternoons for a game of bridge, a good chat and a cosy cup of tea. Please let MCSI staff, volunteers or Head Gardener Imogen Jackson know if you would like to come along.
Many patients have been enjoying the craft group held every Wednesday in the garden room and this week has been no exception! Everyone's been getting into the festive spirit by creating these beautiful, handmade Christmas cards, which will be given to friends and family, as well as being sold at the upcoming Christmas Fair.
Everyone is welcome to join in with the craft group and every week there's a great atmosphere - if you'd like to come along, or would like to find out more just have a chat to one of our friendly volunteers.
You're welcome to join Head Gardener Imogen to take part in relaxed horticultural therapy sessions in the garden every Tuesday between 2-3pm.
Recent activities include taking cuttings from the raised beds, planting various allium bulbs and forcing hyacinths for the festive season.
Horatio's Garden Midlands - Oswestry
The Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital