A beautiful new sensory garden that Ingleton Wood helped make a reality at Aldeburgh and District Community Hospital has just been opened.
It was Nick Hulme, CEO of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust who opened the garden, which is dedicated to promoting the rehabilitation and recuperation of patients.
It became a reality thanks to the hospital’s League of Friends, NHS Property Services and volunteer garden team leader Anne Parsons.
Ingleton Wood provided technical and project management expertise and the whole process took six months to complete.
It was Anne who fundraised for 18 months to collect in excess of £70,000 for the project and NHS Property Services added funding to incorporate pathways within the garden, which also serves as external fire-escape routes.
The garden is designed for use by patients and local residents with sensory impairments or dementia, wheelchair users, caregivers, people with anxiety or depression and anyone else who would benefit.
The result is a pavilion, lit with colour-changing LED lights, used as an outdoor activity area and performance space; a wisteria-covered walkway; raised beds of different heights for all levels of mobility; non-slip resin paths; a dry garden of textural foliage and plants of all types for sunny and shaded areas providing year-round interest.
Anni Folan-White, partner and building services engineer at Ingleton Wood, led the team who took the structural alterations proposed through planning permission.
She said: “It truly is a wonderful, relaxing beautiful space. We all really enjoyed being part of the process to see this garden to fruition.”
The garden is wildlife friendly so patients can use all five senses: listening to the birds and insects, enjoying the colours, fragrances and textures and tasting the edible plants.
Anne Parsons said: “This healing garden is a community resource and has been designed with wheelchair users and those requiring walking aids in mind to ensure they can get around safely. Those living with dementia or sensory impairments will find it a calming space.
“Hospitals can be noisy places offering little privacy or dignity but now patients, their families and staff will be able to spend time in a beautifully tranquil garden. I’m very proud of what we have achieved together and keen for everyone to enjoy it.”
Anne drew up the design brief based on advice from hospital staff on the needs of patients and with garden designer Roger Simpson. Construction was carried out by Roger Gladwell Landscape & Design.
She hopes that GPs will encourage patients to use the garden through ‘social prescribing’ designed for their well-being.
Anne Parsons, volunteer garden team leader with Tom Reed, construction team leader from Rover Gladwell Landscape & Design
Dedications for the garden
Raised beds to enable those in wheelchairs to access the plants
The lit pavilion at dusk
Picture credits: Graeme Beck