Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville opened in 2018 at the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville Hospital. The spinal centre is one of the largest and oldest in the UK, with an inpatient capacity for 106 adult patients and 9 additional adolescent and paediatric beds. Consequently, it serves people from across the British Isles and Ireland, primarily taking referrals from the south and Home Counties.
Celebrated garden designer and RHS Chelsea Gold Medal winner, Joe Swift, created the garden. Thanks to his careful, thoughtful designs, the space beyond the spinal centre became a place of natural beauty and repose, giving patients and their loved ones a fully accessible oasis to retreat to. The project was expertly managed throughout by Owen Hemmings of the Robert Lombardelli Partnership, enabling Joe’s designs to become an exquisite reality.
“The garden has transformed Alfie’s admissions for him and for us all as a family. He loves to be outside and to escape the confines of the ward is a wonderful thing for him.”
Head Gardener, Amy Moffett, nurtures the garden and holds regular horticultural therapy sessions, with patients often joining her in groups and on a 1:1 basis. Seed sowing and potting on are popular pursuits, particularly in the spring. She is supported by a part time Garden Administrator, Debs Grigg, and a fantastic volunteer team, who often run creative activities for patients, including the relaxed, ever entertaining Poetry & Patisseries group.
“Spending time in the garden and the garden room daily soothed my pain. It helped me with my recovery, allowed me to focus on the positives.”
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 Stoke Mandeville 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Joe Swift is an RHS Chelsea Gold Medal Winner and has been presenting BBC Gardeners’ World since 1998. Having studied garden design at The English Gardening School, based at the Chelsea Physic Garden, in 1990, he has created many gorgeous gardens throughout his career.
Despite his impressive contribution to the world of landscape architecture, it is Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville that he regards as “the most important garden I’ve ever designed.” Whilst every one of his creations brings joy, the knowledge that this garden would “affect hundreds of patients and their families and friends” made bringing it to life “a real honour”.
He continues to reappear regularly in the haven, developing the established planting in collaboration with the team and alike to his fellow Horatio’s Garden designers lends support to the charity however he can.
Joe’s design features numerous secluded areas for patients to enjoy either on their own, or with their visitors. Here people can be surrounded by nature, with grasses creating structure and gently providing a space for people to both reflect and quietly catch up with loved ones.
The highly perennial, sensory planting is wildlife friendly and ensures the garden is a swathe of colour all year round, whilst evergreens lend constant form throughout the changing seasons.
Architect Andrew Wells designed the garden room, which provides a place for patients to appreciate Horatio’s Garden even when the weather is poor. It is a light, airy sanctuary, where people can make a cup of tea, share lunch with their family and friends, as well as participate the activities offered by the charity. Beyond is a communal space for gatherings, where patients can get to know each other and everyone can enjoy seasonal events organised by the Horatio’s Garden team.
An accessible greenhouse has been specially equipped for patients to grow their own plants, whilst the raised beds are also perfect for garden therapy sessions. The planters are often full of herbs, salad leaves and fruits, which patients are welcome to pick. Meanwhile, apple trees are amongst the many to have been planted, not only for their edibles, but for their elegant blossom.
Please click here if you would like to read the full Design & Access Statement
We warmly welcomed Amy to the team in Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville in January 2021. She is a Kew-trained horticulturalist, with a passion for all things bright and beautiful. Her love of plants, trees, fungi and wildlife is no secret and as a maker of beautiful jewellery, Amy is a wonderful source of support, creativity and encouragement for everyone spending time in the National Spinal Injuries Centre.
“I am absolutely delighted to be a part of the team here at Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville. It’s a real privilege to be able to contribute to such a great cause while nurturing such a beautiful garden! Former Head Gardener, Jacqui Martin-Löf, clearly had such a positive impact during her time here and in taking the reins now I hope to continue to help facilitate positivity and hope for many more patients with spinal injuries into the future.”
Click below to hear more from our Head Gardeners about how to get the best out of your gardens all year round!
Following the success of our first 'Poetry and Patisseries' workshop, patients, visitors and volunteers now have the opportunity to enjoy a session each month!
The session's most recent theme was 'Poetry to Make You Smile' and patients, staff and volunteers had a great afternoon creating yet another collaborative poem.
Everyone was brimming with ideas and there were lots of laughs along the way too.
Lots of people joined us in the garden room for another fabulous knit and natter session, where plenty of both activities took place!
The relaxed workshop ran throughout the afternoon, with some people creating a knitted keepsake, whilst others simply indulged in some tea and cake and enjoyed the good company.
Our next knit and natter session will be on Thursday 2nd April - we look forward to seeing you there!
Many people joined us in the garden for the first 'Poetry and Patisseries' class and everyone who came along had a wonderful afternoon.
Poems and cakes were shared in the garden room and on the wards, as well as a lot of laughter, memories and reminders of people's favourite verses. The group also created their first collaborative poem 'The Eclair', which was loved by all!
We will be welcoming new artist in residence, Rebecca Rason Flor Ferreira, to the garden every Monday from Monday 13th January to Monday 24th February.
Everyone is welcome to join Rebecca in the garden, whether you wish to paint alongside her, or would simply like to spend time chatting with her over a warm cup of tea.
Many patients have enjoyed creating Christmassy crafts this November and December, including Alfie who showed everyone just how wreath-making should be done!
There was a truly lovely atmosphere in the garden as we celebrated the start of the festive season with our Christmas Market. We were joined by a whole host of wonderful artisans, whilst there were also plants and crafts available which were grown and created by our brilliant volunteer team. It was a pleasure to welcome so many patients, families, friends, NHS staff and members of the public to the garden and we hope you all enjoyed the day!
Every Tuesday from 2:30pm we run a flower workshop in the garden room which is open to everyone. Patients recently created some autumnal pumpkin flowers and there will be more creativity to come this winter!
Join us in the garden from 2-4pm every Wednesday afternoon to create your own unique crafts.
Everyone is welcome, so come along if you fancy having a few hours of fun in the company of other patients, families and volunteers.
Charlie wasn't the only one who was pleased with his pumpkin flowers! Fellow patient Brandon also joined him in the 'Flowers on Tuesdays' workshop, which was a great success. The workshop used fresh pumpkins generously donated by Farmer Paul's Pumpkins, whilst the dahlias, oak leaves, asters, hydrangeas, rosemary, fir cones, poppy heads, cabbages and moss were kindly donated by the Wild Rose Flower Company. WheelPower Physical Activity Advisor, Ian Durrant, also joined us and was so impressed he donated £10 to buy one of the special Halloween arrangements!
Keith Jansz, a world-renowned mouth painter, will be painting in the garden on Thursday 10th October from 12pm-5pm. Keith spent 6 months in the NSIC following a car accident in 1995 and whilst adjusting to his new way of life he was inspired to start learning to paint by mouth. Everyone is welcome to join Keith on Thursday, whether you'd like to paint alongside him, or would just like to enjoy the garden and have a chat.
A group of Year 6 girls visited the garden on Tuesday 25th June 2019 for a very special performance of songs from their summer production, Mary Poppins.
Patients, NHS staff, visitors and volunteers all enjoyed being transported back to the world of the old Disney classic and had a good sing along to many of the film's iconic tunes - including 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'!
Caroline May is our new Artist in Residence! She will begin working in the garden on Tuesday 6th August and will be with us each Tuesday for six weeks. During this time, patients and visitors are welcome to join her on a selected day a week (which will be confirmed imminently) between 12-5pm to create artwork with Caroline’s support.
Last year she was the Artist in Residence in our Scotland garden, so she is hugely excited to return to the charity and experience a brand new Horatio’s Garden.
Please speak to Jacqui, Anna, or one of our Stoke Mandeville volunteers if you’d like more information.
You can discover more about Caroline by visiting her website - www.carolineelizabethmay.com/.
Patient Aliysha-Louise recently gifted these beautiful, hand-painted pebbles to the garden to be hidden amongst the planting.
Each one includes a happy thought, so when patients or their loved ones find a pebble they will receive a little encouraging message before then re-hiding it in a new location for the next person to find.
Aliysha-Louise was inspired by the #islastones campaign, which became a worldwide movement in memory of young Isla Tansey, who had a rare form of cancer. They are a most welcome addition to the garden.
On Tuesday 4th June we welcomed patients, loved ones, guests and the one and only Anneka Rice to the garden for our Fabulous Summer Tea Party.
Over 100 people came along to the event and were hugely excited to be joining in with the charity's first national fundraising event.
The unpredictable weather did nothing to dampen spirits and guests gathered in the cosy garden room to make short work of lots of tea and cake!
Patients, their family and their friends were welcomed to the garden on Monday 6th May for a Bank Holiday Barbecue.
With over 160 guests popping to the garden to make the most of the beautiful weather, the volunteer team certainly had their work cut out!
There was a brilliant atmosphere in the garden all afternoon and patients and their loved ones were hugely grateful to everyone who made the weekend a really wonderful experience.
On 19th April 2019 we welcomed patients, their loved ones and staff to the garden for a Treasure Hunt and a spot of afternoon tea.
As ever, the Horatio’s Garden volunteers had been incredibly busy baking a variety of delicious Easter treats, and in true seasonal spirit there was an abundance of Easter Eggs too!
It was a very happy, sunny, delicious and much-appreciated afternoon. Thank you to everyone who helped to make the event a huge success.
A huge amount has been happening in our recent gardening groups, from creating kokedamas to planting 'magic beans' with numerous children.
We're thrilled to see so many people getting involved in the garden and it's particularly lovely to see some young, budding gardeners taking part too!
All patients and their loved ones were welcome to join us in the garden room on Wednesday 13th February between 2-4pm to make some homemade Valentine’s cards.
All materials were supplied, and patients created some gorgeous cards to make their special someone smile.
After all, there’s nothing quite like receiving a homemade gift!
Throughout the beginning of 2019, patients at Stoke Mandeville have been busy getting creative in our Arts Rehabilitation classes. Those currently staying in the National Spinal Injuries Centre have begun creating this marvellous installation, which will soon be brightening up the entrance of the Centre itself.
We would like to thank up and coming designer Richard Quinn for kindly donating the fabrics that enabled patients to enjoy a vibrant afternoon of cutting and sewing in the warm company of our volunteers.
We’re excited to see the final product!
Christmas crafts were underway throughout December 2018, with patients creating a variety of festive decorations and cards. We hope that they warmed the hearts of many during this holiday season!
On 11th December the Pipers Corner School Christmas Choir delighted patients, families, friends, and staff with their performance in the garden room. A spot of afternoon tea followed the sweet singing - the perfect treat on this chilly December day!
Horatio's Garden Stoke Mandeville
The National Spinal Injuries Centre
Stoke Mandeville Hospital