The real health ben­e­fit of the gar­den

A hospice is open­ing up its glo­ri­ous gar­dens to the pub­lic for the first time this week­end. Camilla Good­man finds out more Email james.king-sharp@trin­i­tymir­ror.com for ad­vice

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - LIFE & LEISURE -

GAR­DEN lovers will be able to ex­plore the grounds of The Hospice of St Fran­cis, in Spring Gar­den Lane, Berkham­sted, on Sun­day from 2pm to 5.30pm.

The hospice, which cares for peo­ple from Che­sham, Amer­sham, the Chalfonts and sur­round­ing vil­lages, is open­ing its gar­dens for the first time as part of the Na­tional Gar­den Scheme’s open gar­dens pro­gramme.

Orig­i­nally built on a brown field site in 2006, the hospice gar­dens have been lov­ingly planned, planted and nur­tured by a ded­i­cated team of 35 vol­un­teer gar­den­ers to pro­vide a tran­quil and ther­a­peu­tic en­vi­ron­ment for hospice pa­tients, their fam­i­lies and friends.

The site cov­ers seven acres, with views over to the Na­tional Trust Ashridge Es­tate, and is split into six ar­eas around the con­cept of a tra­di­tional farm­house with out­build­ings.

The gar­dens in­clude wild flower mead­ows, or­chards and a herb gar­den filled with chives, rose­mary, vi­o­lets and pars­ley used by the hospice kitchen.

In ad­di­tion, there is a sen­sory gar­den, which is one of the high­lights with strong colours, scents and sounds, to­gether with raised flower beds built es­pe­cially to ac­com­mo­date wheel­chair ac­cess.

Be­hind the hospice, the Heal­ing Gar­den has an ori­en­tal theme, com­bin­ing east­ern plants and a wa­ter fea­ture, de­signed by Chelsea Flower show Gold Medal­list, David Stevens. Dur­ing the open gar­dens event, there will also be ac­cess to the pa­tients’ gar­dens, which have beds planted twice a year to give lots of colour and at­tract in­sect life.

The Wood­land trail will also be open and in­cludes el­e­ments of sur­pri for chil­dren, cul­mi­nat­ing in a visit to the Storytellers’ Chair, hid­den in a clear­ing in the woods. Gen­er­ously do­nated by Robyn West, in mem­ory o her late hus­band Ian, the chair is used to share sto­ries by chil­dren and adults fac­ing loss as well as vis­it­ing school groups. It was de­signed by Robyn and cre­ated by black­smith and jew­eller Shel­ley Thomas.

The hospice will be serv­ing cream teas dur­ing the af­ter­noon, with pro­ceeds go­ing to the Na­tional Gar­den Scheme’s char­i­ties, of which Help the Hos­pices is a mem­ber and re­ceived £400,000 last year.

Hospice di­rec­tor Dr Ros Tay­lor said: “We re­ceive so many com­ments from pa­tients, fam­i­lies and vis­i­tors about our beau­ti­ful gar­dens and we felt that after eight years of hard graft by our gar­den­ing vol­un­teers, we’d love to showcase them to gar­den lovers from across the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly those who don’t al­ready know about our work.

“It’s a priv­i­lege to be one of just three hospice gar­dens open this year by NGS and I’m de­lighted that Help the Hos­pices will be one of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the en­trance fees.

Our share will help us to se­cure the £4.7mil­lion we need to raise each and ev­ery year to pro­vide care for over 1,000 pa­tients and their fam­i­lies across Buck­ing­hamshire and Hert­ford­shire.

“I hope many peo­ple will come and visit us on Sun­day to spend an hour or two in this mag­i­cal set­ting and that it will al­ter peo­ple’s opin­ions about hos­pices.

“We are a bright, colour­ful, happy place and our gar­dens ra­di­ate this warmth and hap­pi­ness, lifting the spir­its of ev­ery­one who vis­its.

“It’s of­ten said that the gar­den is a ther­a­peu­tic space to heal the an­guish that peo­ple face dur­ing the un­cer­tainty of ill­ness – I’ve seen this in ac­tion ev­ery day!”

There is park­ing on site and nearby and the hospice is ac­ces­si­ble for wheel­chairs.

Ad­mis­sion is £4 and en­try for chil­dren is free. Re­fresh­ments will be avail­able to pur­chase.

Visit www.ngs.org.uk/gar­dens/ find-a-gar­den/gar­den.aspx?id=31001.

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