Image of the fountain in the St Barnabas House gardens

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The importance of our patient gardens

By Karen Coldham, Assistant Gardener at St Barnabas House

Our patient gardens are an integral part of St Barnabas House, and the wellbeing of our patients and families. If you are staying with us in the hospice or are visiting a loved one here, you will have access to your own garden area which is private from the rest of our grounds and closed to the public.

Each room faces out onto the patient gardens, meaning that you can have your door open all year round, listen to the trickling from the water features, the sounds of birds singing and feel close to nature.

Accessible for patients

It’s vital to us that these gardens are accessible for all patients, so wide, flat paths connect all rooms. With double doors facing out from each of the rooms to the gardens, patients can choose to sit outside or if that is not possible the nurses can move their bed into the gardens. There are also benches scattered around, so if you can only walk for a short period of time, you can find a place to sit and relax with family and friends.

A quiet place to be close to nature

We try to encourage nature as much as possible into our gardens, people often comment on how lovely it is to look out their windows and see and hear wildlife. Studies have proven that being close to nature has positive impacts on our emotional wellbeing – it can make us feel relaxed, positive, and at ease.

Because these gardens are private, you’re bound to spot all sorts of wildlife making themselves at home – we even have a family of moorhens that have moved in! The hedgerow around the perimeter of the patient gardens is a great place for birds to nest, and we have lots of bird feeders to provide the birds with feed during the winter months. We try our best to work with nature, and it’s the little things that make a difference. For example, when we are clearing away fallen leaves, we always try to leave scattered around the hedgerow for our family of hedgehogs.

Image of the gardens at the hospice

Stimulating the senses

Sight

Sensory planting and landscaping provide a range of colour, textures and wildlife throughout the year. We plant seasonal plants around the gardens, meaning that there is always something beautiful to look at. From spring bulbs, magnolia trees, to a variety of different perennials that provide colour, and encourage wildlife, all the way through to the first frost.

Touch

We have planted a variety of plants with different textures at different heights. Feathery and plumed ornamental grasses line our main pathway with different varieties of ferns at lower levels. We encourage everyone to experience the different textures in the gardens.

Sound

In the gardens you’ll hear birds singing, the sounds of the wind rustling through trees and the trickling of a water feature. You don’t need to be in the gardens to hear all these sounds, you can open a window or a door and listen to the sound of nature.

Smell

We don’t plant anything that has an overwhelming smell to it, but subtle aromas given off by a variety of flowers are lovely to enjoy.

A home away from home

We want the gardens to feel like a home-away-from-home, so on your stay or visit, you might see flowers or shrubs that you, or someone you know, has in their garden.

Chat to us!

Our patient gardens are just one area of our hospice, we have lots of other areas, such as the pond, wildflower meadow, our vegetable patches and even a beehive! Each area serves a different purpose, so if you have any questions about what you spot in the gardens at St Barnabas House, be sure to ask myself or our Head Gardener, Nick, we’d love to chat.

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