A ground breaking ceremony was held in one of the courtyard gardens at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey today [Friday 25th February 2022], to mark the start of the work that will transform this garden into a healing space, filled with seasonal flowers, leafy plants and pleached trees, as well as the calming sound of water.
The garden will be transformed into a secluded courtyard, with a garden room, that will be suitable for hospital beds, and decorated with home-like furniture for patients, their family and friends to use, both day and night, all year round. The clever use of pleached trees, screens and a pergola will provide privacy for those using the garden, which will have ample indoor and outdoor seating for loved ones to be together.
Once the garden is complete, family and friends will be able to use the garden as a space to spend precious moments with their loved ones who are nearing the end of their life, and in addition to this, staff will be able to use the space to have difficult conversations and also reflect on challenging days.
Marcine Waterman, Deputy Chairman and Non-Executive Director lead for the Healing Arts at Ashford and St Peter’s, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to break ground on this wonderful project, and that soon, we will have a dedicated space to recount memories with loved ones, give rise to hope, deliver difficult messages, and mostly to say goodbye to those we love in an environment filled with the sound of water trickling, leaves and flowers blooming, in nature abound. We have chosen the name ‘The Eternal Garden’ as it signifies time without end, and how all things endure beyond life, including memories and the impact others have on our lives.”
Andrea Lewis, Chief Nurse at Ashford and St Peter’s, added: “It’s fantastic that we are able to transform one of our existing gardens into a therapeutic space for patients and staff, as part of the Healing Arts programme. We’d like to extend our thanks to the Friends of St Peter’s Hospital for their incredibly generous donation which has funded this project. As this is also the Friends of St Peter’s final donation to the hospital, I’d like to thank them for their continued support over the years.”
The Healing Arts programme at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals aims to introduce more visual art, music and theatre into the hospitals and to improve architecture and green space across the Trust. It is thought that the presence of nature, landscapes and art in all forms in healthcare settings can bring a number of benefits, and can aid recovery, help to reduce the length of stay for patients and positively impact the wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors.
The Eternal Garden has been designed by award-winning garden and landscape designer Rae Wilkinson, who explained: “The idea behind this garden is the creation of a nurturing green space within a courtyard at St Peter’s, providing an escape from the clinical environment within the surrounding hospital. It has been designed to be a green sanctuary, a welcoming space to take a moment or to be together, particularly at end of life.”
Landscape design, consultation and construction company, The Outdoor Room, has been contracted to carry out the work on The Eternal Garden, which is set to open in Spring 2022.
Pictured top: Andrea Lewis, Andy Field, Marcine Waterman, Rae Wilkinson and Mark Britton