Published on: 22nd July 2020

Over the past few months, many of us have come to realise the importance of outdoor spaces in supporting our mental health, which perhaps makes the arrival of Horatio’s Garden London at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore feel more momentous than ever.

The garden, designed by eight-time Chelsea gold medal winner, Tom Stuart-Smith, has been built just beyond the ward doors of the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre for patients and their loved ones to enjoy as they adjust to living with life-changing injuries.

Over three months in lockdown has given us all a miniscule glimpse into the immense challenges faced by people with spinal injuries, the majority of whom spend upwards of two months in hospital with little to no access to the outdoor world. Horatio’s Garden is all about giving people that opportunity, creating and nurturing gardens in spinal centres across the UK that are a lifeline for everyone affected by spinal injury.

The charity’s gardens give patients and families the space to establish vital support networks, whilst Horatio’s Garden also run horticultural and creative therapy sessions to help patients throughout their mental and physical rehabilitation. The gardens are a haven too for NHS staff. Not only do they thoughtfully incorporate them into the clinical care of patients, they also regularly retreat to them on breaks for the good of their own mental wellbeing.

Horatio’s Garden London is over two years in the making and the team from ARJ construction have worked tirelessly all summer to ensure that it is ready to welcome patients and their loved ones in September. Having given up various weekends to remain on schedule throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the garden is now ready for planting; a mammoth project being taken on by a team of volunteers, with the guidance of designer Tom Stuart-Smith and new Head Gardener, Ashley Edwards.

Ashley Edwards gardening in Horatio's Garden Salisbury.jpg
As Ashley graduated from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in 2014, Tom Stuart-Smith firmly believes that the garden will be safe in Ashley’s horticultural hands. He has worked in numerous gardens around the world, most recently those at Strawberry Hill House, the former residence of the world’s first Gothic writer, Horace Walpole.

Warmly welcoming both visitors and volunteers to a garden is second nature to Ashley, making him perfectly placed for his new role in Horatio’s Garden London. He shared, “to be part of a garden of such excellent horticultural design that will support people with their mental and physical wellbeing is very special.  To be here from day one is such a fantastic opportunity for me too”.

Now that the garden is nearing completion, the charity needs your help to support its immense ongoing running costs. Horatio’s Garden are totally reliant on public generosity to continue their incredible work, so if you would like to donate, volunteer or offer corporate support, they would love to hear from you.

To donate:

To get in touch: Email or call 01722 326834

To stay up to date: Follow @horatiosgarden on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram