Horatio’s Garden London & South East opened in 2020 at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore. The spinal centre currently has 40 beds for adults, children and young people, including beds for acute care, the first episode of rehabilitation and readmission. Patients are predominantly admitted from London, Greater London and the South East of England.
The internationally renowned and multiple RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner, Tom Stuart-Smith, designed the garden, collaborating closely with current and former patients, their loved ones and NHS staff to bring this gorgeous, therapeutic, accessible garden to life. Working with architect Stephen Marshall, a garden room and numerous garden pods were included in Tom’s designs, sensitively providing people with a space to feel the benefits of nature come wind, rain or shine.
“Gardening is good for your whole being. Outside is like a medicine, a healing power. Horatio’s Garden has its own healing power. It makes you feel better in yourself.”
The garden is carefully cared for by Head Gardener, Ashley Edwards, with his endless enthusiasm for horticulture often inspiring patients to join him for both group and 1:1 garden therapy sessions. His sessions complement the clinical care of the spinal centre, gently supporting patients’ physical and psychological rehabilitation. Garden Administrator, Tracey McCarthy, and an extraordinary team of volunteers assist Ashley, whilst they also run countless creative groups, including glass making and textile crafting.
“I really recommend the craft sessions, especially for anyone managing pain – it’s a great pain diversion. I’ve loved learning new skills to take home with me and there are always friendly people waiting to welcome everyone.”
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 London & South East 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.
Tom Stuart-Smith is an acclaimed landscape architect whose work combines naturalism with modernity and built forms with romantic planting. He established his practice, Tom Stuart-Smith Ltd in 1998 and his work ranges from large gardens and parks, to smaller private gardens. Most of his projects are located in the UK and Europe, with a few undertaken further afield.
He has designed numerous gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with eight of these being awarded Gold medals and three winning the coveted accolade of ‘Best in Show’.
Tom’s work seeks to offer a rich, multi-layered experience, forging connections between people and place. He was delighted to be approached to design Horatio’s Garden London & South East and shares, “We all know that gardening has this enormous impact on the quality of people’s lives. Here is something that offers people hope, change and growth and has the capacity to transform the lives of patients with spinal injuries when they are most in need.”
Tom’s designs artfully combine accessibility with his own signature style. Patients in both beds and wheelchairs can easily move throughout the sanctuary, which features plenty of unusual, wildlife friendly plants thoughtfully chosen to capture everyone’s interest. Bird and butterfly boxes also encourage biodiversity and lend an additional element of intrigue to the garden.
The design is unique as Tom created two gardens which wrap around the wards. The more gregarious of the pair was specifically designed for people to spend time in with their families, friends and fellow patients. This is therefore where visitors will find both the garden room, which alike to the greenhouse has plenty of space for horticultural therapy, and the garden pods, as well as an outside space for socialising.
An even greater diaphonous quality is present in the calmer of the two gardens, thanks to the presence of many delicate birch trees. Here people can quietly sit, contemplate and chat with their loved ones, whilst the soothing sound of running water can be heard from nearby.
Despite the build taking place during the year of the Coronavirus pandemic, a combined effort by Tom Stuart Smith Ltd, ARJ, Crocus, Stephen Marshall, the Robert Lombardelli Partnership and our very own volunteer team ensured that the sanctuary welcomed patients as planned and perfectly reflected Tom’s sensitive designs.
Having joined us from Strawberry Hill House & Garden, where he was responsible for a volunteer team and a community outreach programme, Ashley is the perfect fit for Horatio’s Garden London & South East.
With the support of a fantastic volunteer team, Ashley is responsible for nurturing our fifth garden and offers support to patients and their loved ones spending time in the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre.
Since graduating from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in 2014, his profession has taken him to beautiful gardens across the world, including Longwood Gardens in the USA and the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily.
Ashley’s experience in such unique gardens means he understands the importance of thoughtful (and indeed edible!) planting, which is vital as Horatio’s Garden London & South East provides people with natural colour, interest and beauty all year round.
Already Ashley has shown a great deal of enthusiasm and dedication to his new role, which will undoubtedly inspire everyone he meets in the garden.
“To be part of a garden of such excellent horticultural design that will support people with their mental and physical wellbeing is very special. Being here from day one has been a fantastic opportunity.”
Click below to hear more from our Head Gardeners about how to get the best out of your gardens all year round!
Horatio's Garden London & South East
London Spinal Cord Injury Centre
Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital