Horatio’s Garden opened in August 2016 at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow. This is the spinal unit for the whole of Scotland.
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 onto. 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 continually need support for this amazing space. We are always looking for volunteers, whether you’re a gardener or wish to support the patients.
“Horatio’s Garden has been a blessing and has helped tremendously with my recovery at the spinal unit. The main courtyard has been an oasis of peace at times when enjoying the beauty and sounds of the garden.” – Lee-Ann, a patient in Scotland.
To arrange a group tour please contact our Tour Coordinator Lucy Shergold by emailing lucyS@horatiosgarden.org.uk or call 07902 906178 for more information. For all other queries call 01722 326834.
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 featured on television.
James is a member of the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), where he is Chairman of the Gardens Committee, and is also an RHS gardens judge.
The garden is divided into six distinct spaces, each with a different purpose and designed to stimulate the different senses – sight, smell, and touch. This all contributes to supporting the patients’ sense of wellbeing.
A stunning courtyard garden has become the heart of the spinal unit offering 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 wards look out over the woodland garden with trees and a wealth of plants. 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.
“Prior to Horatio’s Garden, patients and their families struggled to find personal space and that meant few opportunities for private conversations. Now they have pods to use with their visitors. Patients also benefit from escapism – the garden is de-medicalised with no hospital equipment so it allows them to feel normal. Making a cup of tea themselves also gives patients free-will as they don’t have to ask nurses. Time out in Horatio’s Garden on a nice day has beneficial effects for patients’ emotional wellbeing. They can relax and feel a bit away from things.” – Dr Culley, Psychologist
“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!
The address of Horatio’s Garden Scotland is:-
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 email@example.com or calling 07902 906178. For any other query please call 01722 326834.
Parking is limited so please use public transport where possible.