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The Eternal Garden

The Eternal Garden at St Peter’s Hospital has won an award at the 2022 Pro Landscaper: small project BIG IMPACT Awards in the Planting Design Under £25,000 category.

This category recognises planting designs which have been completed for under £25,000 that demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of the setting and how the plants work in the space as well as together, all year round.

The Eternal Garden was put forward for this award by the garden’s designer Rae Wilkinson, who in April 2022, transformed this courtyard space into a calming and private garden. The garden can be used for loved ones to spend precious moments with family and friends whilst receiving end-of-life care at St Peter’s Hospital.

The Eternal Garden is the third garden of this kind in the country. The space is ‘walled off’ using pleached and ornamental trees to ensure privacy for the patients and their families that use this space. The planted beds are lined with shrubs, perennials, grasses and ferns to create a soft, layered texture throughout the year. Three water bowls are also located in the garden to fill the space with the calming sound of trickling water.

Rae Wilkinson said: “The intention for this space was to create a sense of enclosure using the green element, providing a serene, green ‘hug’ within the central area and planted views from the surrounding windows. The use of plant structure, foliage texture, and seasonality enables the planting to bring a serene feeling to the garden, bringing a sense of calm and nature connection to those within it. This planting design award recognises the significance of the very purposeful planting in this important space within the hospital, and we were delighted to win in a category where there were so many beautiful planting schemes.”

The Eternal Garden was developed by the Healing Arts programme at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the garden was funded by the Friends of St Peter’s Hospital. The Trust’s Healing Arts programme is funded by the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals’ Charity to provide different forms of art that improve both staff and patient environments, leading to a positive experience for those being cared for or working in those areas.

Marcine Waterman, Non-Executive Director Lead for the Healing Arts at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals, said: “The Eternal Garden is a very special place at the Trust and we have received such wonderful feedback from those who have used the space. We’re delighted that the hard work that went into developing the garden has been recognised with this award.”

The area is also available staff to use the space to have difficult conversations with patients and their families or for parents under the Trust’s maternity and neonatal services whose babies have sadly died or are receiving palliative end-of-life care.


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