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The Story of Horatio's Garden with Sallie Sillar - Virtual Evening Talk 12th January

Sallie is the Head Gardener at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit

in Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow. The unit serves patients from

all around Scotland, and Horatio's Garden Scotland was opened at the Spinal Injuries Unit in 2016.

Sallie brought a huge amount of enthusiasm to her talk about the garden and the many purposes it serves, along with some truly inspiring photographs which make one keen to go and see it on their open day on the 3rd of July this year.

The garden serves patients, their relations, friends and staff as a wonderful resource all year, with an all year round garden room and many other places to relax and work, such as heated pods, large enough for beds and wheelchairs, where patients and their visitors can enjoy privacy and beauty.

The Glasgow Horatio’s garden is one of several around the UK, and were all inspired by a remarkable young man, after whom the charity is named. I recommend you check out his story on the Horatio's Garden web site.

One of the aims of the garden is to provide year round views from within and activities without the unit to uplift and cheer the patients and staff. Sallie mentioned that the changing seasons provide a ‘vector of change’ for the patients, many of whom often feel that their life is ‘on hold’. For this alone, the garden proves extremely life affirming. Beyond this, Sallie and her team of volunteers provide many activities within the garden, such as planting, harvesting, cooking and other activities with the harvests, seasonal art projects using the plants and more. Occupational therapy, structured activities and just the quiet encouragement of seeing the plants

change with the seasons all help with rehabilitation.

For some patients, such as the tetraplegics, just getting out to ‘feel the fresh air and taste the rain’ can be immensely important. 98% of the patients reported that the garden helped with their recovery, and that the art and creative therapy in the garden was extremely helpful.

Sallie herself, trained in Horticultural Therapy, provides group and one to one horticultural therapy sessions; often these projects are inspired by the patients’ own interests and backgrounds.

As for the garden itself, it is impressive, and shows how important good design is. The designer was James Alexander-Sinclair, who still visits the garden often. The ariel photographs which Sallie provided show the scope and cleverness of the design, as muting the noise and the sight of a nearby major road, giving a sense of space and privacy in a relatively small space, and providing year-round interest were all criteria that had to be fulfilled. Of course, Sallie’s efforts

with yearly plantings are vital for this too.

In almost every photograph, even the winter ones, there was usually a patient, visitor, or staff member, or all three, enjoying the space. Sallie told us that the paths are designed to slow people down, and that wildlife is encouraged by planting choices and other means. There are wheelchair spaces and benches all around to encourage people to pause and enjoy the privacy and peace of the garden.

According to staff and patients, the garden has been very effective in fulfilling its aim of fostering friendships and social connection, vital for helping the patients’ wellbeing and recovery.

All in all, Horatio’s Garden seems to be a splendid showpiece to demonstrate the

importance to wellbeing and the healing power of a garden.

For more about Horatio's Garden Scotland visit their website:

To find out more about the Horatio Garden Scotland open day as part of Scotland's Garden Scheme visit:

Volunteers at Horatio Garden Scotland


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