Head gardener for Horatio's garden

A head gardener has been appointed for the Horatio's garden at Shropshire's Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries.

Imogen Jackson
Imogen Jackson

Imogen Jackson will be travelling to her new role overseeing the garden at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital on the water.

For the horticultural therapist lives on a narrowboat, and says she will be bringing her home with her along the canal network.

Imogen will be responsible for nurturing the fourth Horatio’s Garden at the hospital near Oswestry with the help of a group of volunteers.

The gardens built at spinal units aim to improves the lives of everyone affected by spinal injury, supporting patients and their loved ones who are facing long stays in hospital.

As well as somewhere to spend time outside - with power supplies to ensure patients can take medical equipment with them - a special garden room is being built.

The charity says that as Imogen is a trained horticultural therapist she will also run the charity’s gentle garden therapy, offering weekly physical and mental support to patients and their families.

Prior to working with Horatio’s Garden she was based as a Horticultural Therapist at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London.

"I understand the wonderful health benefits that both gardens and gardening have to offer," she said.

"I am excited about having the opportunity to introduce new activities and ideas to Horatio’s Garden Oswestry."

Her position has been funded by the Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Horatio’s Garden is a national charity which sees leading garden designers develop the sanctuaries. In November, work began on the charity’s fourth garden at the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries in Oswestry, which is due to open later this year. It has been designed by well-known Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Bunny Guinness.

Once the gardens have been built, the charity’s volunteer team care for the garden, and support the activities organised by the charity for patients, their families, and their friends. These include garden therapy, art therapy, artists in residence, tea and cakes, food events and music concerts.

The charity is named after Horatio Chapple - a schoolboy who wanted to be a doctor and volunteered at the spinal centre in Salisbury. It was Horatio’s idea to create a garden and his research has shaped the garden designs and the charity’s aims. Horatio’s life was cut short at 17 when his camp was attacked by a polar bear while on expedition in Svalbard in 2011.

However, his legacy continues to help patients and their families, providing them with spaces which offer both tranquillity and community.

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