Our Trust charity has cultivated a relationship with an outstanding garden designer for the new rehabilitation garden at Hillingdon.
Tom Stuart-Smith and his colleague Max Harriman (who designed the rehab garden at Stanmore Hospital) will present their design to us soon, for the empty space next to the Jubilee Building, which houses Alderbourne and Daniels wards.
Tom is a Chelsea Flower Show multiple gold medal winner, and winner of Best in Show on three occasions for his garden designs.
After our charity reached out to Tom on the off chance that he could help, he kindly agreed to back us by donating most of the time and expertise required for the project.
Both wards have patients living with challenges created by their condition, and many are learning to walk again or adjusting to life in a wheelchair.
One patient – John – was a keen sportsman, often taking part in 60-mile bike rides. He was having a leisurely ride one Sunday when he came off his bike. He doesn't remember why, he just remembers waking up in the road and not being able to move any of his limbs.
In that split second his life completely changed. After three months, he started to manage to walk a few steps.
John says being able to go out in the fresh air is invaluable, and having somewhere to go outside the ward is so important for mental health. Time alone with family out of the clinical environment enables some very important conversations.
John also said seeing plants and greenery would allow him to think of his own garden at home, and having a place where he could mix socially with other patients would really help with his recovery.
People for centuries have benefitted from the calming effect of being out in nature. Planting something and tending it, seeing it grow and bearing flowers or fruit, is a well-documented healing therapy, and this is what we want to achieve in this space at Hillingdon.
Picture: Garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith, centre, with Shirley Clipp and David Jenkins of our charity on the patch of waste ground we want to convert to a rehabilitation garden.