Green-fingered hospice volunteers treated to day out at royal garden

Categories: Community Engagement.

The garden on the Crown Estate at Windsor has delighted members of the royal family for generations. The landscaped garden, set in 30 acres, features notable trees, lawns and flowering shrubs, along with an 18th century lake.

The garden was opened to the public on 2 June by kind permission of Her Majesty the Queen, in aid of the NGS, and NGS provided free tickets for six hospice volunteers.

Despite having to wrap up in winter coats, gloves and boots, sisters Maureen O’Sullivan and Shelagh Hardman said they “loved it!”

“The garden looked lovely,” Maureen added – and you can see from her photos above just how lovely the garden at Frogmore House is. The sisters were grateful that hot tea and coffee was available to keep warm as they admired the garden and chatted with the head gardener about the garden and his planned changes to planting schemes.

Maureen got involved in volunteering at Woking & Sam Beare Hospices after the hospice was there for a number of her family and friends, and persuaded her sister to help out in the hospice garden too. Not only does Maureen volunteer in the garden but also at the day hospice – she sees it as a way of giving back to the hospice which cared for her loved ones.

Maureen believes that it is important that patients at the hospice are able to look out at something nice, pretty and “living”. She says they get very positive feedback on the garden from patients and their family and friends who appreciate having a nice, peaceful garden to sit in. Families have also commented that seeing the volunteer gardeners at work is a nice glimpse of “normal life”, at a time when normal life can feel like it is on hold.

Brian Scott and Carol Vine, keen gardeners and members of the The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), were also delighted with the opportunity to visit Frogmore House.

Brian and Carol tend to the award-winning garden at Meadow House Hospice. An important place for relaxation and reflection, for patients and visitors alike, the hospice garden has won the Ealing in Bloom award on a number of occasions.

Brian, who has had an interest in gardening for as long as he can remember, and has a huge self-taught plant knowledge, has been volunteering at the hospice since 2004. He decided to become a volunteer after two of his family members had cause to use the services of a hospice. During visits to the hospice, he would often spend time doing some gardening and this led him to volunteer at Meadow House. When not at the hospice, Brian spends much of his time on his allotment.

Having retired from a successful career as an Osteopath, Carol decided to re-train and took a RHS course in Horticulture at Capel Manor. Carol began volunteering for Meadow House in 2012 after a family member used the service – Carol was so impressed with the garden that she decided she would like to become one of the garden volunteers.

“I could have stayed there all day!”

Husband and wife, Chris and Peter Burridge, who volunteer at Thames Hospice, also enjoyed the day out at Frogmore House Garden.

“Despite the cold, wind and rain, it did not detract from the stunningly beautiful setting,” Chris said, adding that she admired the “beautiful architecture, especially the quaint bridge leading to the Victoria and Albert mausoleum, the magnificent giant ancient trees and the tranquil lake with Frogmore House as a backdrop.”

“Had the weather been sunny and warm, I could have stayed there all day!”

Chris got involved in the hospice garden after she retired and, when looking for something worthwhile to do, a close friend suggested she get in touch with the hospice’s volunteering team.

“As I love gardening I took on the task of bringing the courtyard garden, in the main reception area of the hospice, back to life,” Chris explains.

“It had been left untended for several years after the previous carers had retired; it was very overgrown and not very warm or welcoming for patients and their families. After a good month of backbreaking digging (which I thoroughly enjoyed) the garden finally took shape.

“After a few months my husband Peter began to take an interest and now joins me on my weekly visits when he can. With a bit of fundraising at summer fêtes and other events, and help from another volunteer, we managed to raise sufficient money to stock the courtyard with new trees, plants and a statue of Joan of Arc.”

The National Gardens Scheme raises money through visitors paying to attend open gardens and to enjoy home-made teas or buying plants. NGS uses this money to make annual grants to a number of nursing and caring charities and has donated more than £3 million in support of Hospice UK and hospice care since 1996.

This weekend (6 and 7 June) the NGS will hold their third annual National Gardens Festival Weekend. The weekend is a fantastic celebration of gardens of all shapes and sizes across England and Wales. Visit the NGS website to find out which gardens are open during the Festival Weekend in your local area.

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