Horatio’s Garden is a project to bring gardens to the spinal units across the UK. Following a spinal injury patients can be hospitalised for up to 18 months while they adjust and recover, weeks and months spent on the same ward, the same four walls. Many hospitals used to have gardens, but these spaces have been forgotten or swallowed up. There is an obvious benefit, backed up by research, to patients. Gardens are wonderful spaces to escape to, away from the ward, to feel wind and rain, to touch and smell plants and reconnect with nature away from the bland confines of a ward. It’s been shown to be particularly beneficial to spinal injury patients whose recoveries are lengthy and life changing.
The initial project began in the grounds of Salisbury hospital and was designed by Cleve West. Horatio’s garden are currently fundraising for gardens at the units in Stoke Mandeville and Scotland.
I was invited to an event at Yeo Valley to listen to the food writer Rose Prince talk about food and seasonal eating. It was a fundraiser for Horatia’s garden. I attended as a guest, the profits of the day were donated to Horatia’s Garden. Along with a small group of people we listen to the food writer Rose Prince talk about her book on the benefits of good seasonal food, a perfect partnership for the ethos of Yeo Valley and Horatia’s garden who use horticultural therapy with patients. The garden exists as much as a space for patients to connect with nature, but also to re-connect with their families beyond the ward. Salisbury have cake and tea afternoons, soup and bread lunches using food as a shared experience. Following Rose’s talk there was lunch and a chance to chat to other people attending the event; good food and company, my company was my friend Chris of.
Yeo Valley has a wonderful cafe in their organic garden, the views are very special and the food is seasonal, as much as possible comes from the garden or is locally sourced. Chris and I don’t eat meat and both have a keen interest in seasonal food, strawberries for me are June food, asparagus is always British and only during the season, Autumn is for fresh picked apples and blackberries. It was good to have lunch and catch up with views of the garden beyond. It made a strong connection to the aims for Horatio’s Garden.
Strolling around the garden after lunch was a lesson in the value of outdoor spaces to revitalise. Like all gardens it offers something different with every season and I can appreciate what an antidote a garden is to a lengthy stay on a hospital ward, it is a place to collect thoughts, spent time in fresh air and for the patients in Horatio’s Garden adjust to life with paralysis.
Am slightly in love with the Yeo Valley Garden:
Disclosure: I was an invited guest by Yeo Valley. All words and opinions are my own.