Horatio’s Garden Midlands opened in 2019 at the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries in the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital. The centre of excellence serves a catchment of 10 million from North Wales, Mid-Wales, South Mersey, Cheshire and The West Midlands. It provides lifelong service to a current population of 3,500 patients.
Award-winning garden designer, Bunny Guinness, created the garden, establishing a thriving, gentle and welcoming space that’s changed the lives of patients, their loved ones and the NHS staff working in the spinal centre. The project was again expertly overseen by Owen Hemmings of the Robert Lombardelli partnership, with Read Construction, Butler Landscapes and Andrew Wells of 3W Architecture working together to create the haven Bunny first imagined.
“The garden is invaluable. It has been a saviour to me in times of need and emotional moments. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve bathed in sunshine and made many new friends, many of whom I’ll keep forever!”
Responsible for caring and nurturing the garden is Head Gardener & Horticultural Therapist, Imogen Jackson. Together with a garden administrator and an incredible team of volunteers and in close collaboration with the spinal centre’s wonderful staff, Imogen runs a regular, varied programme of activities. This includes horticultural therapy in both group and 1:1 settings, creative workshops, ever-popular Mindfulness in Nature sessions and informative Coping with Spinal Injury in Practice gatherings.
“To see our patients enjoy this garden is the most rewarding sight. It really is heaven.”
As each Horatio’s Garden requires constant funding of £75,000 a year, please consider donating via our website or becoming a Friend to support our Midlands garden’s ongoing running costs. Alternatively, you can also donate by post to our registered office 2 Throope Down Office, Blandford Road, Coombe Bissett, Salisbury, SP5 4LN, or phone 01722 326 834 to donate by credit card.
If you feel you could help with fundraising, or would like to volunteer, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01722 326 834.
Would you like to visit the garden? We’re hoping we will soon be able to once again welcome small groups to see Horatio’s Garden from 2022. Please contact Garden Tour Coordinator, Lucy Shergold, by emailing lucyS@horatiosgarden.org.uk or call 07902906178 for more information.
Bunny Guinness is an award-winning Landscape and Garden Designer, who has worked in Landscape Design for well over 30 years. She has gained a wealth of experience working on a range of projects and is celebrated for her considered approach to transforming spaces.
In addition to her design work, she is well-known and recognised for her extensive media presence. As well as having been a panelist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time since 1998, she has also written a weekly column concerning all things gardening since 2000 and regularly contributes to other publications, such as Gardens Illustrated magazine.
Her extensive horticultural knowledge made her perfect for bringing Horatio’s Garden Oswestry into being. Speaking of her contribution, she says “The garden provides all the benefits of a beautiful outside space to people who really appreciate them and offer people a softer, more personable space away from the ward. I am privileged to be involved in this exciting project.”
Bunny’s design carefully and subtly reflects the needs of patients and their families. The main garden wraps the spinal centre on two sides, with the planting in the existing courtyard being enhanced with flowers such as Rosa ‘Olivia’, Verbena bonariensis, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’, ensuring that every patient has a colourful view of nature from their bedroom window. The design also incorporated a stunning magnolia tree, which was planted by the hospital’s namesake, Dame Agnes Hunt, generally recognised as the first orthopaedic nurse who pioneered the benefits of nature to people’s health and recovery.
Smooth paths throughout ensure that patients in both beds and wheelchairs can easily access the garden, whilst the glasshouse and garden therapy area feature raised beds and planters which enable patients to grow their own plants, flowers and vegetables. The design also includes an open social space for patients to spend time in with family, friends and fellow patients, whilst sheltered areas lend privacy to individuals and smaller groups. Additionally, the garden has a wheelchair skills area, children’s play area and serpentine rill.
The garden room is a spectacular element of the sanctuary. It was designed by Andrew Wells of 3W Architecture, whilst the extraordinary ceiling was painted by artist Martin Rodgers. It features a fully accessible kitchen, a gorgeous wood burning stove and a projector screen so that patients can enjoy film nights and watch theatre shows. Here, patients can gather with whomever they wish in warm, comfortable environment, meaning everyone can appreciate the sights and sounds of nature all year round.
“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!
Horatio's Garden Midlands - Oswestry
The Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital