Building works have started!

Building work has started on the beautiful garden for patients at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital and should take 6 months to complete.

The build is being expertly project managed by Owen Hemmings of the Robert Lombardelli Partnership. The landscape contractors are Garden Link run by Dan Flynn with his brilliant team including Jason, Matt and Jack. The project is being supported by Sir Robert McAlpine and Keltbray who have generously removed the spoil from the site.

The National Gardens Scheme have generously given a £135,000 grant to this project under their Gardens and Health Initiative.

Thank you for all your help to make Joe Swift’s plans become a reality. We are now looking for on going to support to cover the costs of maintaining the gardens and all the events and activities which the charity puts on in the garden for patients. These are the essence of Horatio’s Garden and make such a difference for people spending so long in hospital.

The NSIC is one of the oldest and largest spinal injuries centres with an inpatient capacity for 106 adult patients and 9 adolescent and paediatric beds. The centre can see up to 800 inpatients treated in one year, as well as 4,000 appointments for outpatients. It looks after patients from a wide area of the country, with the catchment area reaching from West Midlands all the way down to Kent. For children, referrals are accepted for all of the British Isles and Ireland. With patients often being so far from their family and friends, it is vital for them to have a space where they can enjoy their time together and also have some privacy.

Could you volunteer, become a friend, donate, or fundraise?

“If there was a garden, it would make a huge difference. Just somewhere to sit, reflect, take your family, pretend you’re not in hospital for just five minutes” Lynn Power, patient at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville.



Joe Swift, an RHS Gold medal winner and presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World, is designing Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville.

He studied garden design at The English Gardening School based at the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1990 and started presenting Gardeners’ World in 1998. He now designs gardens, presents on TV and writes.

The brief was to transform the outside space to something that brings nature and beauty close to the spinal unit, giving patients and their relatives, an accessible oasis of calm in the clinical environment.

Joe said “It is a real honour to be designing Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville, a garden which will affect hundreds of patients and their families and friends.”

Horatio’s Garden’s team of designers, Joe Swift, James Alexander-Sinclair and Cleve West, can be seen in their Three Men Went To Mow films.

The Design

The proposed garden will include secluded areas for patients to be on their own or with visitors, a rill and water feature. The highly perennial, sensory planting will create fabulous swathes of colour all year round whilst evergreens will give winter structure. The planting will be bird and butterfly friendly.

A garden room, designed by architect Andrew Wells, will provide a place for patients to enjoy the garden even when the weather is poor. It will be a light airy sanctuary where patients can make a cup of tea, share lunch with visitors and participate in the volunteer led activities which the charity runs.

Outside the garden room a communal space will be used for gatherings of patients – for lunches outside and live music.

An accessible greenhouse will be specially equipped for patient to help with the gardening and will be used to propagate plants for the garden. Patients can get involved with working with the head gardener and volunteers or just come and chat and watch. Regular garden therapy groups will use the greenhouse and the raised beds for therapeutic activities. Herbs, salad leaves and fruit will be grown for patients to pick and eat. Apples will be some of the many trees which will be planted.

Download the design and access statement HERE


Jacqui has recently joined Horatio’s Garden team in the role of Head Gardener.

“Having worked in a girls’ school for the last 12 years teaching Gardening and Forest School I feel very privileged to have now been given yet another wonderful opportunity in joining Horatio’s Garden team. Being part of something so needed, so worthwhile, so valued through the healing powers of gardens is quite an honour, and an honour indeed to continue the legacy of such an inspiring young man, Horatio Chapple.

The accessibility to the garden directly off the wards gives patients, their friends and families an invitation to easily access the sanctuary of the garden. By entering the garden the patients move away from the sounds of the sterile wards and into the fresh air with the sounds of the water feature, the wind in the trees and the sound of the birds. This, the third Horatio’s Garden, is very nearly in every respect in full bloom!”

Jacqui Martin-Lof has recently started in her role as Head Gardener at Horatio's Garden Stoke Mandeville and will be responsible for the care and maintenance of the garden, currently during building and after the garden is completed.

Head Gardener's Tips

How to find us

Horatio's Garden Stoke Mandeville
Mandeville Road
HP21 8AL

To arrange a visit to Horatio’s Garden please contact Head Gardener
Jacqui Martin-Lof on

sign up for the Horatio's Garden newsletter

Contact Us

Awards & supporters