St John’s Hospice Garden - ‘A Modern Apothecary’

At this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show we teamed up with award winning horticulturalist Jekka McVicar with a vision of bringing her stunning creation ‘A Modern Apothecary’ back to St John’s Hospice. The showcase was a huge success with visits to our garden from Her Majesty The Queen, Princess Anne and Maureen Lipman to name just a few. The garden received an excellent Silver-Gilt award from the RHS judges and proved extremely popular with visitors to the show.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visiting our hospice garden at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Jekka has designed a soothing garden, with "wellness at its heart", to highlight the vital relationship between medicine and nature. Grown at Jekka’s Herb Farm, the garden will feature research-based plants known to be beneficial to health and wellbeing.

There are currently very limited outside spaces for patients and their families to enjoy at our hospice. The only accessible area is a small space towards the back of our Day Centre. The new garden, which will be replanted at the hospice from the Flower Show, will be located at the back of our Inpatient Unit and patients will be able to see it from their beds and access it from their bedrooms.

Jekka McVicar, alongside Alan Titchmarsh and St John's Hospice CEO, Caroline Fox at the Flower Show.

Often our patients are too unwell to be far from our nurses and very much miss the simple pleasures we take for granted. Fresh air, plants, herbs and flowers usually enjoyed slowly drift out of reach for our patients as they become too ill to go for walks of enjoy caring for their own gardens. As the Hospice is based in Central London, many of our patients live in small flats and do not have their own outside space at home.

The experience of natural calm while walking along the lavender-lined path, towards the water feature, is enhanced by a pair of benches where patients will be able to sit, surrounded by scented plants in a place of stillness. The garden contains many red-leaved herbs, for example Atriplex, Beta, Brassica and Lactuca. Red leaves are high in anthocyanidins, which in the area of cardiovascular disease protection, are strongly linked to oxidative stress protection. Native plants combined with grasses provide a border. Many can be eaten, for example, chicory, salad burnet and sorrel.

Jekka says: “I hope that the garden can provide the patients of the St John’s Hospice and their families comfort through sensory stimulation, and above all a place of quiet reflection.”

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