Horatio’s Garden | Creating gardens for people with spinal cord injury

 

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Horatio’s Gardens are places of peace and tranquility. Set up in memory of its original founder, Horatio Chapple – a schoolboy volunteer at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury, the gardens were developed to offer relief to suffering from Spinal injuries. Horatio came up with the idea of creating beautiful gardens as a sanctuary based on a combination of research and patient questionnaires which he completed before his tragic death at the age of 17. When the young man lost his life to a polar bear tragedy, an outpouring of goodwill and love in the form of donations flooded in for his gardens to become a reality.

Cleve West took on the project to bring the gardens to life as Horatio would have intended, using the late volunteer’s designs, ideas and research in collaboration with his own vision. Cleve continued to speak to the people of the Spinal Centre including the nurses, doctors and parents of those patients as well as the patients and therapists themselves. The opening of the Salisbury garden was launched in 2012 where Cleve went on to win three Society of Garden Designers Awards for its well-received response. Following the success of the first garden, a charity was formed in order to continue with the work in setting up Horatio’s Gardens at the other 10 Spinal Injury Units across the UK.

 

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Ryan, 37 from Leigh near Wigan, was paralysed  after being involved in a serious accident in 1996. The quadriplegic Graphic Designer and Digital Artist who is now paralysed from the shoulders down and uses a computer-controlled headset to complete work for a number of independent UK businesses, has found many ways to incorporate his gardening passions and a keen interest for personal expression into both his home and work life since his life-changing accident at the age of just 17. What’s more, his enthusiasm and empathy for the many other patients across the UK experiencing the same difficulties that Ryan himself has been through over the years, is evident in his ongoing contributions to local charities and health services – the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre in Southport being just one example of his good will gestures which saw the donation of a tropical fish aquarium for the patients using its day room facilities.

Similarly, for its effects on the emotional and mental wellbeing of spinal injury patients, Horatio’s Gardens offer a retreat for patients in search of a quiet place to enjoy the outdoors. The gardens not only offer a visual haven, attracting a number of pollen-loving species and British insects, but allow the patients to keep their hand in with their gardening skills, helping to promote a sense of personal expression and independence. Ryan recently donated one of his creative Succulent planters in a raffle at the Southport Flower Show this year, together with a percentage of his profits made on the successful day which amounted to an impressive £157.11 in total.

 

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The annual event held in August comprises of entertainment, a food festival, show gardens and gardening competitions between schools, colleges and amateur hobbyists. The competitions stretch a total of 100 metres long inside a marquee which consists of contemporary floral designs, floral art and honey products. The raffle in aid of Horatio’s Garden Charity saw one of Ryan’s most popular planter designs given away as the prize for one lucky winner. The resin granite planter housed a number of beautiful Succulents consisting of Crassula Capitella, Crassula Money Maker and Crassula Jade Gollum together with Sedums widely recognized as Jelly Bean and Mini Blue Chalksticks. The unique display made use of the plants’ vibrant fleshy green leaves in various shades, together with a stunning display of tone and texture.

The donation aims to provide similar patients to Ryan with the same relaxation benefits he found valuable in his rehabilitation periods following a number of operations at the hospital. The calming effects of therapeutic gardens have been well documented over the years, with quantitative longitudinal studies demonstrating evidence in their results that a patient’s wellbeing is significantly improved when staying in rooms with windows facing trees as opposed to a brick wall.

Ryan who is now in the throws of setting up his own e-commerce Alpine and Succulent business, having decided to embrace his abilities in horticultural development, will also be hosting monthly therapeutic workshops at the Southport Spinal Unit to introduce patients to the benefits of gardening. The new business will sit alongside his long line of creative talents that include his digital artwork images taken from real-life photographs which are then manipulated into digital interpretations. The artwork takes inspirational cues from animals and nature which are then fused with dramatic colour to create abstract pieces of expression. Following a donation made by Ryan in 2013 where 18 pieces of his artwork were donated to the Southport hospital, the Horatio’s Garden Charity contribution is yet another charity achievement expected to be well received by all patients and workers involved in the charity and its benefits this year.

If you would like more information regarding the Horatio’s Garden please do click here to visit their website. This really is an amazing charity and is close to the hearts of Grow Your Ideas! Please do consider donating.

 

Ryan Forshaw

Ryan Forshaw

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