Dr Olivia Chapple on the healing power of horticulture

Blue asters in foreground. Out-of-focus in background a group of nurses sit around a table chatting.

Everything in a Horatio’s Garden space has been designed to access the benefits of being outdoors and amongst plants, without reminding users of their disability. This is the ethos championed by Dr Oliva Chapple as Chair of the Trustees of ‘Horatio’s Garden’ charity.

If you’d not heard of Horatio’s Garden before 2023, you will most likely have seen coverage of their ‘Best in Show’ garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Designed by Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg, the garden is now in the process of being transferred to the Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.

Read more about Horatio’s Garden at the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Portrait of Dr Oliva Chapple

“It’s about subtle accessibility. You can use the garden as you would if you were an able-bodied person. It doesn’t remind you of your disability.

It’s layered planting, so that you can enjoy it from standing, from sitting or from lying down in a bed.”

Above: Dr Olivia Chapple

The first Horatio’s Garden garden opened at the Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury Hospital in September 2012 and, as of spring 2023, there are seven gardens at spinal units around the UK with the RHS Chelsea show garden being the eighth. The aim is to eventually have one in all 11 NHS spinal injury units in the UK.

Read more about the aims and vision behind the gardens.

Chatting to Olivia on the podcast

Olivia Chapple joined me, Roz, on The Cut Flower Podcast in the summer of 2023 to talk about how the charity and its work has grown in the past few years, with outreach events, a partnership with The National Garden Scheme and an online shop offering gorgeous HG branded, garden-related products (I admit, I reached for the ‘Add to basket’ button as soon as I saw the limited edition Emma Bridgewater mug!).

You can listen to my chat with Olivia on The Cut Flower Podcast here – or via your preferred podcast provider.

Ready to volunteer?

Horatio’s Garden is a charity and completely voluntarily funded.  If you’re inspired by their work and interested in helping out, they are always looking for volunteers! Whether working in the garden, supporting an event or fundraising, there’s sure to be something you can put your hand up for.  More information and contact details for volunteering is on their website here.


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