Horatio’s Garden opened in August 2016 at the Scottish National Spinal Injuries Unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow. This is the spinal unit for the whole of Scotland.
Patients spend a long time in hospital following a spinal cord injury, around five months on average in Scotland. This can be a very difficult time for patients and their family and friends.
Designed by acclaimed garden designer and RHS judge, James Alexander-Sinclair, Scotland’s Horatio’s Garden has transformed the view for patients from the wards and communal rooms to something which is life-affirming to look out on to. The planting encourages birds, butterflies and bees, adding a dimension of interest for patients who can be on bed rest for weeks.
There has been much evidence that gardens and gardening have a positive effect on a person’s physical, mental and emotional well being. Having an inspiring outdoor haven is particularly crucial for people impacted by spinal injuries.
We need your help to support this amazing project with the ongoing maintenance costs. Could you become a friend, donate or fundraise?
“Horatio’s Garden has made a huge difference to my stay in the Spinal Unit. It has been a place to take my visitors and show them the plants in the woodland garden. I have watched this beautiful garden being created. I will be going home with wonderful memories of this garden and the people who work in it.” Jenny, a patient in 2016.
James Alexander-Sinclair is a vastly experienced garden designer, journalist and broadcaster. He has designed stunning gardens from the Western Isles to the outskirts of Moscow.
James writes regularly in the Gardeners’ World magazine and is founder of intoGardens – the first iPad magazine app about gardens. He is often seen on television.
James is a member of the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) where he is Chairman of the Gardens Committee and an RHS gardens judge.
James said: “Horatio’s Garden in Glasgow is the most meaningful garden I have ever designed.”
The garden is divided into six distinct spaces, each with a different purpose and designed to stimulate different senses – sight, smell, touch and all providing a sense of well-being.
A stunning courtyard garden has become the heart of the spinal unit giving an oasis of calm in the clinical environment. This is an uplifting space, brimming with colour and life. There are sheltered areas so patients and their visitors can use the garden during bad weather. The courtyard is at the heart of the unit and is accessible to everyone to enjoy. The wards look out over the woodland garden with trees and plants generously donated from the Hartley Botanic Chelsea Flower Show Garden in 2016 designed by Catherine MacDonald. The planting is designed to encourage wildlife into the garden with plenty of bird feeders. In addition, there is a play garden for children who are visiting relatives in the unit and a physiotherapy garden which is functional as well as beautiful, offering wonderful new facilities to patients and their families.
Courtesy of Hartley Botanic, there is a magnificent greenhouse which is the volunteer HQ and is surrounded by raised beds and areas for horticultural therapy sessions. The scented garden is planted with carefully chosen shrubs growing around a stunning ‘Coccolith’ sculpture, donated by Brewin Dolphin which formed part of its award winning 2016 Chelsea Flower Show garden, designed by Rosy Hardy, winner of 21 gold medals.
A very generous grant from Paterson Quarries Ltd, has supported the scheme and provided a public garden which offers a beautiful space for a moment of quiet reflection for people visiting the main hospital.
“I began my working life as a textile designer and after just over ten years of working in a struggling trade I went back to college to study Horticulture in 2001 and later Horticultural Therapy. I have worked in a variety of horticultural roles from starting as a Gardener, Nursery Garden Assistant (Cally Gardens), Community Garden Manager (Heal the Earth Ayrshire), Horticultural Therapy Manager for veteran’s charity (Gardening Leave) and finally, to be a verifier for the RCHS ( The Caley) Grow & Learn awards for clients with learning difficulties.
I have been surrounded by lovely gardens from a young age which has instilled in me a passion about gardening. I have witnessed first-hand the positive effects that greenspace has on people who experience being in beautiful garden spaces, but also how on a more prescribed level, the use of tailored gardening activities can achieve positive health changes if used as a therapeutic medium.
I have been at Horatio’s Garden Scotland since 2016 and have watched it develop into a beautiful and functional space for patients, relatives, staff and volunteers. It’s positive effect on everyone that experiences it is a joy to watch and as a ‘caretaker’ of the garden spaces I try practice what I preach, take five and experience its magical effect.
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!”.
Sallie is the head gardener and garden therapist in Glasgow. Sallie has had many years of experience working in therapeutic gardening projects. Sallie can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit to the garden.
During Garden Therapy patients collected petals to make pot pourri. The Gertrude Jekyll rose petals proved easy to dry in the heat, mixed with some lavender, bay leaves, rosemary will make for some glorious scents! And following the strawberries, the raspberries were 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 week, the tops and labels went on today, making for a real challenge in garden therapy! Labelled 'fun jam' by choice!
Miranda Creswell, is running art activities as part of her 'Looking out Project' 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 and peat free fibre pots with onions and a wide variety of vegetable, salad and flower seeds 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 has started 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, this 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.”
31st March 2018. On Saturday 31st March, 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 home-baked cakes to enjoy with tea.
Everybody had a lovely day and we thank the amazing volunteer team for organising such a fabulous event.
19th April 2018. Daffodils were harvested in garden therapy today, arranged in vases by the patients and placed in the day room for others to share the beautiful scent.
Volunteer Ploy runs hand therapy craft activities, from making clay shapes to keyrings for presents or to decorate the twig tree in the Horatios Garden corridor that leads to the courtyard.
Card making sessions are run once a month by volunteer Shirley. In March she held a Mother’s Day card making session.
The address of Horatio’s Garden Scotland is
The Scottish National Spinal Unit
Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
1345 Govan Rd
To arrange a visit to Horatio’s Garden please contact Head Gardener Sallie Sillars: 07391 664326 or email@example.com
Parking is limited so please use public transport where possible.
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