Horatio’s Garden Scotland opened in 2016 at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit in Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow. The spinal centre serves patients from across the entirety of Scotland, from the country’s southern border to the Orkney and Shetland Islands.
Created by acclaimed garden designer and RHS Judge, James Alexander-Sinclair, Horatio’s Garden Scotland has transformed the lives of patients, their loved ones and NHS staff affected by spinal cord injury. The view from the wards and communal rooms is now life-affirming, with clever planting ensuring those spending time in the spinal centre always have something uplifting to see. Watching wildlife thriving in the garden, or simply admiring the leaves swaying in the breeze helps people throughout their rehabilitation, particularly by providing a stunning scene for people who often spend many weeks on bed rest.
“Horatio’s Garden has been a blessing and has helped tremendously with my recovery at the spinal unit.”
Head Gardener & Horticultural Therapist, Sallie Sillars, does a fantastic job of taking care of the garden and runs both regular group and 1:1 horticultural therapy sessions, as well as often leading therapeutic art activities too. The autumn is one of the most exciting periods of the year in this particular haven, with patients and NHS staff alike harvesting edible treats and creating recipes with Head Gardener Sallie using produce sourced from the garden. Working together with part-time Garden Administrator, Yvonne Gleeson, a brilliant volunteer team and NHS staff in the spinal centre, Horatio’s Garden Scotland is vibrant, fun and comforting place to be.
“It’s great talking to Sallie and doing activities in the garden. I love harvesting (and eating!) the fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly when we make up recipes with them and share what we’ve made with others.”
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 Scotland 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 email@example.com 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.
James Alexander-Sinclair is one of the UK’s foremost garden designers. He brought Horatio’s Garden Scotland to life and despite having created countless stunning gardens from the Western Isles to the outskirts of Moscow, he maintains that this garden is his all-time favourite. He often visits the garden and admits “invariably and unashamedly, I cry every time I go there.”
Additionally, James is an award-winning writer, a compelling speaker, frequent broadcaster and an elected member of the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). He is Chairman of the RHS Gardens Committee and is also an RHS judge.
He often appears on television and has featured as part of the BBC coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show since 2008. He also writes regularly for Gardeners’ World magazine, alongside a host of other publications and together with fellow garden designers Cleve West and Joe Swift established the somewhat legendary YouTube channel Three Men Went to Mow.
James’ design is divided into six distinct spaces, each with a different purpose. The varied areas were thoughtfully created to stimulate the different senses, primarily focussing on sight, smell and touch. This all helps to support patients’ sense of wellbeing, with research demonstrating that any and all contact with nature helps to reduce stress, improve sleep and increase production of serotonin.
The gorgeous courtyard garden has become the heart of the spinal centre, offering an oasis of calm in the midst of the clinical environment. There are numerous garden pods for patients to spend time in alone, with family or with fellow patients, which all look out onto flowerbeds brimming with colour and life. The slightly larger kitchen pod is particularly popular as this is where tea and cake can be found!
As you move through the garden, a glasshouse and garden therapy area feature alongside each other, enabling patients to engage in all kinds of greenfingered activities both indoors and outdoors. In 2021, the sanctuary became home to a brand new garden room too, meaning seasonal events, creativity and friendship can all flourish come rain or shine.
The wards look out over the woodland garden, which is framed by a collection of beautiful Betula pendula trees, whilst the flowerbeds are awash with colour thanks to flowers such as Echinacea Hot Summer, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Fat Domino’.
“Working for Horatio’s Garden as the Head Gardener in Scotland has opened my eyes to the amazing optimism that patients with spinal injuries can muster in recovery, but also how much strength they gain from being in a garden environment. It’s a pleasure to help patients engage in their greenspace, to take part in interesting and meaningful activities, to take notice of seasonal changes and help them to reconnect to the ever-changing world around them. It is all about planting seeds of hope, quite literally!”
Click below to hear more from our Head Gardeners about how to get the best out of your gardens all year round!
Head Gardener and Horticultural Therapist Sallie recently held a fabulous flower arranging workshop, working with patients to replenish the flowers in the garden and around the NSIU.
The group worked with greenery, daffodils and tulips collected from the garden to make their pretty displays, which are now brightening every available space.
The afternoon was the perfect chance for patients to enjoy catching up and was particularly important to the many ladies currently spending time in the NSIU, who have all formed strong bonds with each other over the past few months.
Artist Miranda Creswell and carpenter Niall Wilson have been working on the so-called 'Butterfly Table' for many months now, which marks the culmination of Miranda's 'Looking Out Glasgow' project.
Back in 2018, when Miranda was the garden's artist in residence, she worked with patients and staff of the NSIU to create many wonderful works which are now showcased on the brand new table.
The hope is that the table will be used by patients and their loved ones alike, inspiring creativity and conversation for many years to come.
Patients were busy in the garden's recent art workshop creating and decorating these sweet creatures, which were all made from air-dried clay.
The session focussed on using a pinching technique and hand rolling to help patients flex their finger and hand muscles. There was a lot of enthusiasm and it was agreed by everyone afterwards that it was a great way to combine creativity with some gentle rehabilitation.
Patients and their loved ones joined us for the annual Christmas Party, which was full of festive treats and much-appreciated by all. We were even given the gift of a wonderful performance from the Glasgow City Voice Choir, which set a fabulously festive tone!
Patients have made these beautiful lanterns, which will be casting their warm glow across the garden throughout December.
Patients have enjoyed lots of Christmas events so far this December, with many braving the cold to decorate this year's tree in record time!
WRAGS trainee Chelsea Lowe held a pumpkin carving workshop for Halloween this year, with volunteers creating plenty of suitably spooky designs! The pumpkins will be displayed in the spinal centre and garden for the SIS Halloween Party and the seeds have been safely stored for use in future garden activities.
The weather was uncommonly kind for our autumn barbeque, with patients, visitors and staff all gathering in the garden for various foodie treats! Volunteers Lorna, Linda, Fergus and Chris were all brilliant supporters of the event, whilst Malka's music was just perfect for the afternoon.
Patients have been using epicure potatoes, smashed tomatoes and herbs all collected from the garden to create some delicious potato wedges.
Similarly, russet potatoes for making Scottish macaroons were also put to good use and will be completed soon - provided the chocolate remains hidden in the meantime!
Summer is officially here! Patients taking part garden therapy have finally been able to harvest, prepare and eat the strawberries that have been permeating the garden with their sweet, tantalising scent.
With the promise of some fruity treats, all the Occupational Therapy team joined patients as they raced to eat as many as humanly possibly!
On Thursday 6th June we welcomed patients and families to the garden for a very special afternoon tea as part of the charity's first national fundraising initiative.
Everyone was hugely enthusiastic about the event, particularly the music which was provided by talented, young flautist Bogdan.
It was lovely to see so many people in the garden and we hope that the cakes were as delicious as they looked!
A thoughtful patient recently collected flowers from the garden and spent the afternoon arranging them into a gorgeous bouquet for his wife's birthday.
Whilst he began to create her card and arrange the flowers, she arrived for a special surprise visit and the two spent the rest of the day celebrating together
Naturally, there were a few happy tears shed and their story created smiles all round.
Some fantastic flower petal and pressed flower creations have emerged from our recent May garden therapy sessions.
Our volunteers have been wonderful in supporting the sessions throughout the week, and have really connected with patients in doing so - a joyful sight to see.
A lovely day spent with Kate, Jane, Louise, Lorna, Alex, Lisa, Eve and Colin who created these fabulous willow plant supports, a task which turned out to be an interesting and highly competitive team-building exercise!
The planters are now ready for some summer sweetpeas, so we are incredibly grateful to the team for all their help and look forward to welcoming them back in the autumn!
Patients, family and friends, as well as volunteers are invited to join us in the Glasgow garden on April 20th between 12:30-3:30pm for the Easter open garden day. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us this year, and everyone will be able to appreciate the garden in all its Spring glory.
Naturally, there will be an immense amount of tea and cake that all guests are welcome to enjoy – no Horatio’s Garden event would be complete without them!
We look forward to seeing you all soon.
Wednesday 13th December marked the occasion of the Horatio's Garden Glasgow lantern parade - a wonderful celebration of Christmas festivities. Patients, families, and staff we're joined by the Glasgow Voice Choir at 7.30pm, who put on on a lovely, winter-warmer performance enjoyed by all who attended.
On 23rd November, Wendy Wolfson visited Horatio's Garden Scotland. Wendy sprinkles songs, rhymes and riddles throughout her readings, and always has an eye out for any nonsense to be had!
Artist Miranda Creswell is pictured in the garden in September 2018, enjoying a spot of sketching in the greenhouse.
Many of the activities Horatio's Garden offers to patients can be done outside at this large table. This includes our Garden and Art Therapy sessions, which as you can see are frequently very well attended and appreciated by those currently staying in the spinal centre. We look forward to seeing everything patients and their families flourish in the years to come!
Artist Martha Orbach began as the new Artist in residence on Thursday 24th August. She was frequently in the garden throughout the summer and early autumn, appreciating all that it has to offer.
Martha Orbach is an award-winning artist and gardener who tells stories through drawing, printmaking and animation. She loves the way you learn about what you are looking at through drawing and experimental image making when you do not know what will emerge on the page. Recent projects include a print series called ‘The Garden’ about the role of plants and gardens in enabling survivors of torture and organised violence to rebuild their lives in the UK, commissioned by the Open Society Foundation. She’s half of Printwalks, a landscape-based, printmaking collaboration with Catherine Orbach, making hand printed papercut screenprints.
She has an ongoing interest in how our minds work and is currently working on a project called White Out in collaboration with patients and staff at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
See more pictures of her inspired work on the news section of the website.
If you would like to take any of your own flower cuttings and do some flower arranging please talk to Sallie who will be happy to point out the best ones to collect!
During Garden Therapy patients collected petals to make pot pourri. The Gertrude Jekyll rose petals proved easy to dry in the heat, and when mixed with some lavender, bay leaves, and rosemary it will make for some glorious scents! And following the recent strawberry picking, the raspberries were this week ready to pick in the Rosie Hardy coccolith sculpture.
The garden has produced an amazing crop of strawberries this year! This is some strawberry jam made last year, and patients were responsible for the whole process from start to finish - putting the tops and labels on made for a real challenge in garden therapy, but the patients rose to it brilliantly. Labelled 'fun jam' by choice!
Miranda Creswell is running art activities as part of her 'Looking Out Project' in our Glasgow garden, and luckily managed to sit in the courtyard, seeking shade from the heat!
Head Gardener and Garden Therapist, Sallie Sillars, works in collaboration with the occupational therapy team to bring the activities of gardening to the rehabilitation programme for patients.
Every week Sallie holds hand therapy sessions in the garden. She has helped patients plant up jute bags with seed potatoes, as well as peat free fibre pots with onions. Attendees have also potted a wide variety of vegetable, salad and flower seeds, which are all on the go in the greenhouse. Chilli plants, cucumbers and herbs have been planted by patients at their request. They are encouraged to take care of and share in the harvest; a powerful distraction from the daily clinical routine.
Thank you to the Merrylea Choir who came and performed in Horatio’s Garden again on the 2nd June! They have entertained patients before and were welcomed back for a fourth performance!
Caroline May had a six week residency in Horatio’s Garden Scotland.
Below, she has written a little bit about her work and inspirations:
“Nature and the environment have always been my main source of inspiration, which has been influenced by growing up in the Cumbrian countryside and being surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes. My work is mainly made up of mixed media collages. I like to create all of the materials I work with, whether it’s watercolour washes, photographs or tree rubbings, which I then layer on top of each other digitally to create the textures, colours and shapes shown in my work.”
On Saturday 31st March 2018, the Horatio’s Garden Scotland team held an Easter celebration for patients, family, volunteers and staff with an egg hunt and a delicious array of homemade cakes and cakes to enjoy with tea.
Everybody had a lovely day and we thank the amazing volunteer team for organising such a fabulous event.
The daffodils were harvested in garden therapy this April, arranged in vases by the patients and placed in the day room so that others were able to smell their beautiful scent.
Volunteers offer hand therapy craft sessions for patients, varying from making clay shapes to keyrings - the perfect gifts for family and friends! The craft sessions are also currently aimed at decorating the twig tree in the Horatio's Garden corridor which leads to the courtyard.
Card making sessions are also run once a month by volunteer Shirley. In March she held a Mother’s Day card making session with some wonderful end products!
Horatio's Garden Scotland - Glasgow
The Scottish National Spinal Unit
Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
1345 Govan Rd
To arrange a group tour of Horatio’s Garden please contact Tour Coordinator Lucy Shergold by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 07902 906178. For any other query please call 01722 326834.
Parking is limited so please use public transport where possible.