A vital hub for the community

The garden which opens in early summer 2024, will be a vital hub for the community, offering a number of projects for those working at or visiting the hospital to take part in.

Designed by award winning garden designer Adam Frost, the new wellbeing garden at Colchester Hospital aims to be a relaxing and restorative space for NHS staff, patients and visitors. NHS staff have been involved with the design throughout through an engagement process to make sure that the garden addresses the needs of staff and patients.  Leading garden designer, Adam, has won several gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and is an RHS Ambassador.

"People need somewhere tucked away where they can pause before going through the hospital entrance; I want people to feel cloaked and comfortable. On a personal level, this is my way of saying thank you to everybody that works hard in the NHS."

Adam Frost, garden designer

With Essex being the driest county in the UK, the wellbeing garden will therefore include drought-tolerant planting.

Key elements of the garden include:

  • Sociable seating areas and more private seating areas to connect or reflect
  • An all-weather shelter for nature-based activities and gardening club sessions
  • New paths weaving through the trees, wildflowers and drought tolerant planting
  • New plants alongside the car park to reduce noise and pollution
  • Access for all, inclusive and welcoming for whole community

Located at the front of the hospital, adjacent to the Cancer Wellbeing Centre and existing lake and close to the main car park, sustainability has been at the heart of the build and the garden has been designed to be resilient to climate change.

Much more than a garden

To ensure the ongoing sustainability of the garden, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Community Outreach team has begun to work with ESNEFT and local volunteers to create a gardening club to help manage and maintain the garden once it is built. The gardening club has already begun to tidy up and plant existing spaces around the hospital.

The RHS Community Outreach team is also running wellbeing activities onsite for NHS staff and patients for a three-year period.  The team has already delivered a variety of workshops to people living with cancer and staff, including wreath making, grow your own herbal teas, and making macrame plant holders.

We are building relationships with organisations to spread the joy of gardening to those living nearby, including Colchester 360, Abbeyfield Medical Centre, Together We Grow, Colchester Natural History Society and Colchester Men's Shed.

"We cant thank you enough. The gardens are just invaluable in supporting patients and their families through difficult times"

Dr Hattie Roebuck, Consultant in Palliative Medicine

Funding behind the project

The wellbeing garden is being funded entirely from charitable donations with thanks to generous donations to staff wellbeing to our own charity and the generosity of the RHS, The Oak Foundation and NHS Charities Together Greener Communities Fund and their funding partners including Starbucks and Hubbub.