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Bowles & Wyer create new gardens for hospital

17 Feb 2021 | BALI Member News

Following the success of the ambitious project of designing and building a new Wellbeing Garden at St George's Hospital in just a matter of weeks, Bowles & Wyer are now nearing completion on another hospital project. The design team at Bowles & Wyer have created two new gardens for Harefield Hospital, a specialist heart and lung hospital.

Whilst the hospital carries out major heart and lung transplant operations during normal times, it has more recently converted a number of wards into caring for COVID-19 patients. Design Director at Bowles & Wyer, James Smith, commented:

The relentless nature of the pandemic has made external spaces an even more precious resource, and 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, and the heart of the garden has a large raised bed feature where staff, patients and visitors can mingle. There are also secluded pockets of seating nestled amongst the planting for those who want more privacy. 

Design Director at Bowles & Wyer, James Smith, commented:

Hospital wards can often feel like restrictive and monotonous environments and we wanted to break away from this feeling in the garden by creating a distinct contrast - using free-flowing meandering paths and curvaceous geometry.

Whilst the Healing Garden and the Transplant Garden may be separate spaces, they share similar design features, materials and planting, with the idea of the latter being able to give patients a safe space to spend time in and to see their relatives, as well as encouraging a pathway to rehabilitation. Patients can take their first steps to recovery in the privacy of the Transplant Garden, a courtyard area outside the High Dependency Ward, and 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 to create a healthy and productive habitat for humans. By exposing patients to nature on a regular basis, 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, also helping to keep maintenance to a minimum for the hospital. A number of ornamental multi-stem trees have been selected to provide sculptural interest, and helping 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 equally important for the staff at the hospital. Senior Staff Nurse at the hospital, Rhianna Colyer, commented:

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 being built over such difficult times has been a real boost, and it is 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, before the new gardens can be opened just in time for Spring, ready for the hospital's visitors and staff to enjoy.

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