The design team at Bowles & Wyer have created two new gardens for Harefield Hospital.
The hospital carries out major heart and lung transplant operations during normal times. It has more recently converted some wards into caring for COVID-19 patients.
Design Director at Bowles & Wyer, James Smith, comments ‘The nature of the pandemic has made external spaces an even more precious resource. We very much hope the garden brings some positivity to people in their most difficult of times.’
Harefield Healing Garden, the larger of the two gardens, has a free-flowing organic design. The heart of the garden has a large raised bed feature where staff, patients and visitors can mingle.
There are pockets of seating amongst the planting for those who want more privacy.
James Smith, comments ‘Hospital wards can often feel like restrictive and monotonous environments. We wanted to break away from this feeling in the garden by creating a distinct contrast. We used free-flowing meandering paths and curvaceous geometry.’
Two new gardens at Harefield Hospital
Whilst the Healing Garden and the Transplant Garden may be separate spaces, they share similar design features, materials and planting. The idea of the latter is to give patients a safe space to spend time in and to see their relatives. It also encourages a pathway to rehabilitation.
Patients can take their first steps to recovery in the privacy of the Transplant Garden. It’s a courtyard area outside the High Dependency Ward. They can then progress to the Healing Garden as they recover.
The designers at Bowles & Wyer have ensured the gardens have strong links to biophilic design. This creates a healthy and productive habitat for humans.
By exposing patients to nature, the aim is to improve post-operative recovery times. Sensory plants will be important, but the key aim is to incorporate movement into the planting with large swathes of mixed ornamental grasses and flowering perennials. It also helps to keep maintenance easy for the hospital.
Many ornamental multi-stem trees have been selected to provide sculptural interest. These also help to provide privacy, as well as seasonal richness. The gardens also incorporate a varied palette of trees and planting to encourage biodiversity.
The new gardens will be as important for the staff at the hospital. Senior Staff Nurse at the hospital, Rhianna Colyer, comments ‘For those of us on the front line in Covid ITU, being able to get outside and spend some time connecting with nature and breathing in fresh air is so important for our wellbeing, after spending 12.5 hour days in bulky face masks and full PPE.
“Seeing the garden built over such difficult times has been a real boost. It’s so lovely to see the progress the team has made. We can’t wait until it is all finished!’
The Bowles & Wyer construction teams are now nearing completion on the project. Whilst the wet and snowy weather at the start of this year has hampered progress, the ambition is for the gardens to be completed within weeks.
The hard landscaping has been completed, seating installed and most of the planting is now in place.
The final touches of irrigation and lighting are the last steps in the project. The new gardens will be ready in time for Spring, ready for the hospital’s visitors and staff to enjoy.