WELSH RUGBY LEGEND SIR GARETH EDWARDS HELPS CHARITY HORATIO’S GARDEN TO PLANT HOPE AT UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL LLANDOUGH, CARDIFF

Designed by two-time RHS Chelsea Gold Medal winner Sarah Price, 
Horatio’s Garden Wales will soon be helping people affected by spinal cord injury


“Having spent a lifetime playing, watching and supporting rugby, I know having a Horatio’s Garden would have meant a lot to many friends who have experienced spinal injuries whilst playing the beloved game,” says Sir Gareth Edwards, who this week could be found enthusiastically joining in with the mammoth voluntary planting effort underway on the site of the soon-to-open Horatio’s Garden Wales.

The rugby legend and Horatio’s Garden Wales appeal patron is currently appearing in the BBC One Cymru series Gareth Edwards’ Great Welsh Adventures. Whilst his afternoon at University Hospital Llandough in Cardiff was decidedly calmer than his recent rally driving antics, Sir Gareth certainly appeared to enjoy his time supporting the charity just as much, sharing “it is a privilege to be involved in this project.”

Funded entirely by donations, Horatio’s Garden is a charity creating and nurturing beautiful, fully accessible gardens in NHS spinal injury centres to support patients, their loved ones and NHS staff affected by spinal cord injury.

Horatio’s Garden Wales will be the charity’s sixth project to date, with Cardiff & Vale University Health Board inviting Horatio’s Garden to establish one of their stunning sanctuaries in the capital as part of the University Hospital Llandough redevelopment project.

The garden has been designed by two-time RHS Chelsea Gold Medal winner Sarah Price and is currently being brought to life at the new, purpose-built Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre, the only spinal centre in the country. The new garden will therefore be there to support people from right across Wales as they physically and mentally adjust to, or care for someone with, life-changing injuries.

“It was an absolute pleasure to see Horatio’s Garden Wales coming alive!” says former patient, Amanda Harris. “The team are doing amazing work and the garden will benefit patients in Wales with life-changing injuries for many years to come. The healing power of gardens cannot be underestimated”.

Sir Gareth’s arrival for the start of the soft landscaping phase of the project coincided nicely with the arrival of the charity’s newly appointed Head Gardener, Owen Griffiths, who will be responsible for taking care of the garden and supporting everyone spending time in the horticultural haven. He’ll be helped by a growing team of fantastic volunteers, many of whom jumped at the chance to partake in the recent planting and meet Sir Gareth!

The garden’s award-winning Welsh designer, Sarah Price, conducted proceedings this week, she developed her designs in close collaboration with current and former patients of the Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Centre, as well as its NHS staff.

“When I’ve spoken to patients, they’ve not only talked about how calming the environment of a garden is, they’ve also talked about it as being a really sociable experience. It’s a place where they almost resume normal life, welcome visitors and family and for a moment you can forget that you’re in hospital.”

As there are only 11 regional NHS spinal injury centres across the UK, the majority of people affected by spinal cord injury face spending upwards of a month in hospital often far from home, their families and their friends. 

The garden is therefore destined to be a home away from home, with Sarah’s thoughtful designs both inspired by and incorporating various stunning elements of the Welsh landscape. The sanctuary will be somewhere for people to retreat to and reflect in a quiet moment, whilst it will also enable people to spend quality time with their families, friends and fellow patients away from the clinical environment.

Those enjoying the garden will be able to feel the benefits of nature all-year round too thanks to the garden pavilion. Designed by 6a architects and offering shelter throughout the seasons, this will be the growing, social hub of the garden; a place where patients can enjoy horticultural therapy sessions, creative workshops, live music performances and seasonal events, all of which are run by the charity.

With construction on site progressing every single day, the hope is that the garden will be ready to welcome patients, their loved ones and NHS staff in spring 2022.

To donate, become a volunteer or find out more about Horatio’s Garden Wales, please visit www.horatiosgarden.org.uk/wales or ring Horatio’s Garden on 01722 326834.