One of our chosen charities for 2021 is the fantastic Horatio’s Garden. Horatio’s Garden is a national charity creating and nurturing beautiful gardens in NHS spinal injury centres to support the mental health, wellbeing and rehabilitation of those affected by spinal injury.
We caught up with Linzi Clark, a volunteer at Horatio’s Garden London & South East, to find out how and why she decided to break up working from home with volunteering in the great outdoors.
How long have you been a volunteer at Horatio’s Garden and why did you become involved?
I’ve been a volunteer for just over a year. I first heard about the opportunity from patients while volunteering on the spinal injuries ward at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. I was attracted to the project as I was feeling very isolated working from home during lockdown and wanted to feel part of a team again in an outdoor setting to relieve the monotony of working 9-5 from my living room.
Where does your gardening inspiration come from?
Gardening runs deep in my family. My grandfather wrote a book about gardening and used to present a gardening radio show. As a child I was lucky to grow up in a house on the west coast of Scotland with a beautiful garden filled with Alpine plants that my father sourced from obscure nurseries all over the world. Having lived in London for the past twenty years I don’t have a garden of my own and I’m ashamed to say I have killed quite a few house plants through neglect.
However, working at Horatio’s Garden has been transformative. Our Head Gardener’s passion, knowledge and tender devotion to plants reminds me so much of my own family members. Ashley’s enthusiasm is infectious and I’ve learnt a great deal from him over the past year.
Tell us what your average volunteering day includes?
No two days are the same! In terms of gardening, it all depends on the season – my role could include watering, mulching, pruning or planting. In the lead up to Christmas, I got involved in making Christmas wreaths and paper printing which were both fun activities which gave me new and unexpected skills. I’ve also learnt to make glass jewellery through one of our other talented volunteers who now runs workshops for patients. Patient interaction is a very important and rewarding part of the role – whether it’s a chat over afternoon tea and cake or organising an art workshop over the Easter holidays.
What is your favourite part about volunteering?
Creating and maintaining a beautiful garden that provides so much solace for the patients. When I look back on lockdown in years to come, I will remember what an amazing experience it was to create a garden from scratch during such a dark time. I also love working with the other volunteers and Horatio’s Garden staff who are so grateful for everything the volunteers do – it’s really nice to feel needed as part of such a meaningful project.
Top tips for anyone taking up gardening this year
Having not had a great track record with house plants, I was initially nervous about becoming a volunteer gardener but as long as you commit time to caring for them, plants give so much back. I’ve learnt that gardening really is a labour of love and you get back what you put in.
What is the one thing you want people to know about Horatio’s Garden?
Horatio’s Garden is a charity that believes in the power of gardens to support patients in their greatest time of need.
About the Organisation
Horatio’s Garden is a national charity creating and nurturing beautiful gardens in NHS spinal injury centres to support the mental health, wellbeing and rehabilitation of those affected by spinal injury. Leading landscape designers create the gardens and each one is cared for by dedicated volunteers, led by a Head Gardener. The charity aims to bring a Horatio’s Garden to all 11 spinal injury centres in the UK