We’ve teamed up with award-winning garden designer, Bunny Guinness, to transform the garden around the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries, creating a beautiful sanctuary for patients and their families.
Watch the videos to see how Horatio’s Garden can greatly benefit the lives of patients in Oswestry.
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Bunny Guinness is well known as a Gardeners’ Question Time panellist on Radio 4 and writer for the Telegraph. Her sensitive designs will 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 give privacy to patients who need a space to contemplate.
“Hearing from people who have benefitted 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’s designs carefully reflect the needs of patients and their families. The main garden will wrap the spinal unit on two sides with the planting in the existing courtyard areas being enhanced so that all patients’ bedroom windows will have a view of nature. The garden will be all on one level, with smooth paths throughout ensuring that it is easily accessible to patients in beds and wheelchairs. The essential design features will be 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.
The main focus of the garden will be a social area – a place to gather and share events music: art and cultural activities. Leading from this will be a light airy, contemporary garden room designed by Andrew Wells of 3W Architecture Ltd. Andrew has also donated his time to the charity on the Stoke Mandeville project and understands the complexities of designing a space to meet the needs of this group of patients. With automated doors, an accessible kitchen for patients to make hot drinks, a screen for cinema evenings and a wood burning stove for cool days – this will be the hub of the garden project. Patients will be able to use the room all year round as a place to share with families and experience a feeling of being away from hospital. Psychologically having a space which is separate from the spinal ward and feels like ‘home’ can be a huge boost.
The social area will be bounded by a rill so the sound of flowing water echoes throughout the garden. This is recognised to be an important calming sound and helps bring a peaceful atmosphere to the space. There will be a woodland pathway to explore and the road will be screened with a yew hedge giving privacy to patients in the garden and wards.
Bunny has created architectural private areas – where patients can feel surrounded and comforted by plants whether in a hospital bed or a wheelchair. These will be planted with scented planting and climbers with evergreen hedges to create structure.
The garden therapy area will have raised flower beds where the gardening team will help patients to grow vegetables and fruit – delights which can be picked and eaten straightaway – having fresh lettuce or herbs improves any NHS meal! The greenhouse will be a place of work for the head gardener and volunteers but also another space for patients to use for garden therapy but also as a social space.
Along the side of the spinal centre a wheelchair skills area will be developed so patients can practice in a safe area in close proximity to the ward. A children’s play area will be carefully designed to create a space for patients families to enjoy. Visits for young children can be very difficult so having a dedicated space where families can do normal activities can be so important.
Throughout the garden the planting will be designed to give all year colour and interest. Wildlife will be encouraged with bird and butterfly boxes as well as appropriate planting.
"I first learnt of The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital when I was a Physiotherapy student at The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel in the late 1950s.
I then worked at the The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham, which was run on the principles of Dame Agnes with the patients being treated outside as much as possible and I learnt how valuable that was in their recovery.
Imagine my surprise when I married and discovered that my husband was on the Management Committee of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt hospital! Then as I was introduced to it I realised how remarkable and unique it is. Before long we were welcoming the League of Friends' bus to our home - loaded with patients and nurses from the spinal injury wards visiting us for a tour of the gardens and tea then followed by a beer and a game of bingo.
Our League of Friends was founded in 1961 and I have been on the Executive Committee for over 45 years and latterly it's vice chairman.
We constantly strive to provide the very best for our patients, staff and research.
The possibility that we can assist in honouring our Founder's principles and Horatio's inspirational views about what is good for recovering patients and create a Horatio's Garden for the Midland Spinal Units is like a dream realised, a miracle!".
I am delighted that the decision has been taken to instal a Horatio's Garden at the Orthopedic Hospital at Gobowen. It will provide a very important aid in the care of those with spinal injuries as well as greatly enhancing the surrounds of the hospital, which serves a large area on both sides of the border between England and Wales.
"The beauty of flowers in an Horatio's Garden lifts the heart and exploring them gives hope and a will to face the struggle".
"The Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries serves a population of about 10 million from North Wales , Mid Wales and the West Midlands. It is one of two Centres in the UK that was rebuilt from Charitable donations (£4.5 million). It was architecturally designed with full involvement of the senior team members of the Centre to ensure ease of management of patients in a pleasant environment .
Although the environment within the Centre is second to none in quality, unfortunately it was difficult to raise more funds to provide an equally pleasant and serene environment around the Centre for the patient and their relatives to enjoy. This is particularly significant considering the required period of hospitalisation , the relative limitation of space within the Centre, the inability of the patients to exercise outdoors or to enjoy being with their relatives outdoors in good weather.
The dream that one day a garden around the Centre will be developed to facilitate and enhance the management of the emotional , psychological , medical and physical effects of such a sudden life changing injury has never stopped following me even after I retired from the NHS.
I am grateful to the Chapple family and the Horatio Garden Organisation for their endeavours in making that dream come true for all patients, their families and indeed for me too".
Prof W S El Masri FRCS Ed, FRCP Clinical Professor of Spinal Injuries
"The Midlands Centre for Spinal Injury does extraordinary and wonderful work. it’s well known and appreciated throughout the equestrian world in particular, for the treatment it has provided to injured riders. This garden will be be a huge asset to the Centre, providing a beautiful and valuable addition to the healing process".
"This is a brilliant, beautiful project for a brilliant, beautiful charity. Such a garden lifts the spirits away from what must inevitably be a functional building for the care of patients.A garden such as this one enables them to enter another world in terms of sight, touch, smell and touch. Once again, I say, brilliant and beautiful".
Building works for Horatio's Garden Oswestry have not yet begun but if you would like to know more please ring the office on 01722 326834 or email firstname.lastname@example.org