We’ve 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.”
If you feel inspired to SUPPORT the garden, either by volunteering, becoming a friend, donating, or fundraising we would love for you to be a part of the story of Horatio’s Garden Oswestry. Simply CLICK HERE for more information.
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
Imogen will be responsible for nurturing our brand new garden, with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers.
Having previously worked as a Horticultural Instructor at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, Imogen is looking forward to running the charity’s gentle garden therapy sessions, which offer a great deal of physical and mental support to patients and families. As she is currently studying for her Masters in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture, she is naturally enthusiastic about all that gardens and gardening have to offer and has an insightful understanding of their therapeutic value.
Imogen relocated from the South especially to take up the position, moving her narrowboat all the way to it’s new home near Oswestry in order to be close to the garden. Local newspaper The Shropshire Star have welcomed Imogen to the local community, and since becoming involved with the charity she’s joined in with numerous Fabulous Summer Tea Parties, has been interviewed in the garden on numerous occasions by BBC Radio Shropshire and has organised a whole host of wonderful activities for patients and their loved ones to enjoy together.
Imogen is looking forward to seeing many local supporters at the charity’s events in the future and her enthusiasm and commitment to Horatio’s Garden will undoubtedly continue to inspire many for years to come.
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.
"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 install 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 a 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's 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."
Sir Algernon Heber-Percy generously supported the capital appeal for Horatio's Garden Oswestry from the very beginning. He and his wife, Lady Heber-Percy, hosted a special lunch with garden designer Bunny Guinness at their home, Hodnet Hall, to raise vital funds for the project in 2017. Both Sir Algernon and Lady Heber-Percy attended the official opening of the garden in 2019 and he continues to actively encourage people to support the garden to this day.
David became a patron for Horatio's Garden Oswestry, which his niece Bunny Guinness is designing. The garden will be filled with wonderfully scented roses.
It is with great sadness that the Austin family announces the passing of David C. H. Austin Snr OBE VMH, rosarian and founder of David Austin Roses Ltd. David Snr died peacefully at his home in Shropshire on Tuesday 18th December 2018, surrounded by his family. He was 92.
Horatio's Garden Oswestry
The Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital