Woodlands garden reopens in blaze of colour

News photo: 1) The new courtyard garden at the Woodlands Unit

The courtyard garden at the Woodlands Unit in Queen Mary’s Hospital Sidcup has been completely rebuilt and re-planted in an ambitious project that is a model of its kind.

News Photo: 2) Anne Waterworth, Service Manager for Older Adults, Bexley, formally opens the garden.

The garden is shared by patients from Leyton and Camden wards for older adults and it has been re-designed with their needs in mind. Rebuilding work was carried out during January and February this year, with replanting taking place from Spring onwards.

The brainchild of Shirley Barber, Occupational Therapist at Leyton Ward, and Mathew Grant, Project Manager, Estates and Facilities, the garden now offers walkways, quiet seating areas, a shady gazebo and a profusion of colourful plants for visitors to enjoy.

It was not ever thus according to Mathew: “The whole garden was paved in unsightly black rubber tiles, and the entrances from the wards were difficult for patients to negotiate. This end of the garden has now been raised to allow easier access and there are steps in the middle with hand rails. At Shirley’s request we designed raised beds (from railway sleepers) that are wide enough for people to sit on and high enough to allow patients to garden without having to stoop. But before that we had to hire a huge crane to remove all the old tiles and rubble and hoist in the new materials. This was necessary to in order to keep the wards open as everything would have had to be carried through them.”

Shirley adds: “Once the heavy work was done, the patients have been very involved in the garden. We all went on a trip to a local garden centre and together decided which plants would be best. It’s very therapeutic and our patients have enjoyed planting and then looking after the flowers.”

One of those involved, Martin Staunton, said: “It’s unbelievable – it just lifts the spirits now. Before it was a mish mash and quite dark, but now there’s room to walk around the plants. People can sit on the wooden surrounds and do some gardening and the gazebo in the centre means that they can enjoy the garden whatever the weather.”

The garden was formally opened by Anne Waterworth, Service Manager for Older Adults, Bexley, in a ceremony in July. Before everyone tucked in to a magnificent spread including tea and an excellent looking chocolate cake, Anne said: “The new Woodlands garden is a wonderful and therapeutic resource that is already being enjoyed by patients and staff alike. I hope it continues to enrich people’s lives for many years to come.”

Photo captions

  1. The new courtyard garden at the Woodlands Unit.
  2. Anne Waterworth, Service Manager for Older Adults, Bexley, formally opens the garden.

Published on 31st August 2010