Hospice Memory Garden – Design and Preparation

Hari, volunteer, memory garden, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping, st christophers hospice

 

So what is a Hospice Memory Garden?

The term may cover a number of types of gardens and borders where flowers, shrubs, trees and even statues are placed so that the bereaved can come and remember their loved ones.

It is, or should be a place of reflection as well as sadness; somewhere to be reminded of the good times.

 

However, in a hospice setting, there are also residents, patients and staff who also need a quiet place to relax. It can offer a place to sit and to reminisce with friends and family perhaps.

St Christopher’s Hospice offers care and support for the residents of the London Boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. They have a site in both Orpington and Sydenham.

Back in October 2015, we met with Christine and Philippa from St Christopher’s Hospice at the Sydenham hospice grounds. Marie, as Plews Garden Design, was asked to design and create a Memory Garden in the grounds at Sydenham. Designed as a year round garden, to be enjoyed by the residents, staff and carers, we decided that the area next to the Pavilion would be the best place.

garden pavilion, initial design visit for memory garden at st christophers hospice garden, autumn, plews garden design

It was agreed that the Memory Garden would have the names of loved ones planted along with the flowers and shrubs. The date for completion was that the garden should be ready for an ‘official opening’ at the St Christopher’s Mad Hatters Fair on June 25th.

nathan waterfield taking measurements at site survey for memory garden, st christophers hospice, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping

Initial thoughts and ideas followed on from the site survey, carried out by both Marie, and Nathan, from Plews Garden Landscaping. We knew the whole border would need to be cleared of the old, tired shrubs; the soil dug over and improved.

site survey for memory garden, st christophers hospice, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping

The hospice memory garden design included a change of shape and extension to the existing border so that scented flowers could be planted near the doors of the pavilion. Scent and a changing outlook over the year were important design elements.

St Christopher’s had already received donations for the hospice Memory Garden. Gardens, and even large borders such as this one, take more money, time and effort than many people realise. Whilst Plews Garden Design and Plews Garden Landscaping were both giving their time, we were aware that there were exciting things like soil improver needed as well as plants. So Marie spent much time contacting local nurseries and other gardening related people she knows to see what else might be donated or offered at a discount.

Plews Garden Design collecting doanted soil improver from Greenfields wood waste management company for the memory garden, St Christophers Hospice

Greenfields Wood Waste Management kindly donated the all-important soil improver.
Provender  Nurseries gave a generous discount to the plants Marie sourced from their stock.

sourcing plants at trade nursery, plews garden design, memory garden, st christophers hospice, plews garden landscaping

A twitter plea led by Wow Bromley gave a boost to funds from some local businesses and individuals.

 

Hospice Memory Garden – preparation

As ever with garden design and landscaping and with border planting designs there comes a point when the secateurs and loppers come out and work on the ground starts.

Plews Garden Design, Plews Garden Landscaping and volunteer friends, ready to clear the border for the memory garden at St Christophers Hospice

Some of the Plews Garden Design and Plews Garden Landscaping teams who were available plus a couple of willing and able volunteers got together on a Sunday to clear all the old shrubs and plants.

clearing the old border, memory garden, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping, st christophers hospice, marie shallcross, volunteer

We cleared the ground, putting into a ‘holding bed’ those plants which could be used either within the new design or elsewhere within the hospice grounds.

holding bed for plants, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping, memory garden, st christophers hospice, volunteer

extending border, Nathan waterfield, Chris mollett, memory garden, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping, st christophers hospice

Once the border was cleared of plants and weeds, the digging started. Unfortunately, we hit type 1 (literally!) about six inches down over nearly half of the area of original flower and shrub border. Type 1 is the mix of stones that is put down as a hard landscaping surface under patios for example.

cup cakes, clearing border for memory garden,st christophers hospice, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping

This was obviously the opportune moment for a break. We scoffed delicious chocolate and raspberry cupcakes provided by yet another supporter and considered the type 1 problem… along with the football, flat and house buying and who had the cutest dog / cat/ kitten photo. (The kitten won).

Nathan breaking up clods of clay, memory garden, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping, st christophers hospice, nathna waterfield

Ideally we would have brought in a breaker to get rid of all the type 1 and replace with new top soil. Time and money constraints led us to decide to use Nathan and a mattock instead. He loosened it to improve the drainage and we planned to bring along some fresh soil when planting. Marie decided that re-designing the border was possible, so we would be abel to resolve the problem at minimum cost to the charity.

soil improver added, memory garden, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping, st christophers hospice

The soil improver was wheel barrowed from the Plews truck and dug into the extended area and the border. When adding soil improver, it’s important to remember that it is food for plants so needs to be at their root level, not left on the soil surface.

memory garden, border cleared, pavilion, plews garden design, plews garden landscaping, st christophers hospice

After all that hard work, we cleaned up the site and all departed to our various homes for a late lunch and a rest.

For the next instalment of the Hospice Memory Garden – the planting – you’ll need to wait until we’ve done it – but keep an eye open on social media and you might spot us in action!

 

Related Gardening Blogs you may enjoy

Soil Preparation – Double Digging
Pearl Anniversary Flowers
The Plants in our Gardens are at Risk
Plews’ Favourite Garden Plants of 2013

unloading soil improver, memory garden, st christophers hospice, plews garden landscaping, plews garden design

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