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We have our own Leaf by Leaf Blog and a couple of our authors also maintain their own. Vicky Turrell continues her very popular series of 'Notes from the country' and Bernard Pearson has his own website and blog, here.

From Notes from the country

Makes you think

Tuesday 11th Jun 2024


I have been there at last. I have walked through the gates into that hidden sanctuary. It was open day at Horatio’s Garden at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital near Oswestry.  There are seven Horatio’s Gardens which have been developed and the eighth in Sheffield is being built. We are lucky enough to have one in Shropshire designed by Bunny Guinness, and ever since I first heard about it, I have wanted to go in. My dream came true last weekend when it opened for the National Garden Scheme. I have waited five years to see this secret garden.

It runs the length of a busy road and I expected noise of traffic but all that disappeared somehow in the peace of the garden with its glorious tumbling colours and rippling stream. There was a little café at the end and you could buy plants but mostly we wanted to sit and enjoy the peace and calm.

I met a volunteer who is a trained gardener by profession and she told me that she had met Olivia, Horatio’s courageous mother.  Her young son, Horatio, was killed tragically by a polar bear on an island in the artic. A charity was set up to build gardens for Spinal Units at hospitals because that is what Horatio had wanted to do.

I met the head gardener who emanated a quiet competence. He looked much younger than I imagined, but then doesn’t everyone these days? He told me the names of the plants and how they were cared for. He said that this garden is an extension of the Spinal Ward so the height of the flowers and plants must be accessible to patients in wheelchairs or beds. I left taking some of the garden’s peace and calm with me.

There was time for contemplation in the rolling Shropshire hills when I went on a Shuttle bus a few days later. Who would have thought that going on a bus would be a treat? We parked at Snailbeach. I found an honesty box for parking money and I wondered how many people paid. There was a sign saying ‘Shuttle Stops here’ so we waited. Suddenly a cuckoo ‘sang’, it is the first and only one I have heard this year. Then the little bus arrived and took us to the Bog Centre for some tea and cake. Then off again over the Stiperstones hills to Church Stretton and then back.

Do you know?” announced the driver “Some old people get on this bus and stay on for the return journey just for the fun of it.”

That is just what we were doing, but I did not say.

(Taken from my column Talking Point in the Shropshire Star)

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