The mystery of Horatio’s Garden

Jason King gives his perspective on Horatio’s Garden and shares what it means to him

black and white head shot of Jason KingWhen I first came to the Spinal unit here in Salisbury I was put in isolation for 2 weeks. My windows looked out on to a carpark. Almost every nurse talked about the beautiful Horatio’s garden that could also be seen from my window. When I got up into a wheelchair I checked out the view below of this famous garden. To be honest I was disappointed.

I heard the inspiring tale of Horatio, who volunteered in the unit and was planning to work in medicine, but was tragically killed by a polar bear in northern Norway. From my window it was just a concrete ramp leading to a green area which contained a small tree, a couple of wild flowers and lots of weeds. However, when I was first allowed out of my cell, sorry room, I went exploring and came across the weeded area from my windows view. There was the Garden room, which sells coffee, cakes and other wonderful treats, and a green house. Thinking that was it, I took the path in between them and I was pleasantly surprised to see there was more to come.

It was a sight for the sore eyes for someone who had stared at ceilings for 6 weeks. There was a remarkable mix of flowers, plants and sculptures that would lighten up the darkest thoughts that spinal injury can sometimes cause. I could imagine my kids now, running around this garden of endless possibilities and charm. There is plenty of space for family and friends to enjoy the peaceful ambience. Of course my kids would ruin that peacefulness and the flowers would be tempting for my 7 year old who is obsessed with giving her mother flowers picked from other people’s gardens. Edward, the 4 year old boy would be in and out of the lovely water feature, climbing on the walls, tables and benches. Despite these temptations for my offspring, it is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy time with your loved ones and it really does make a big difference from being on the ward.

Initial disappointment turned to joy when I explored the garden for that first time. It’s a great place to sit with those who love and miss you, but also it’s a tremendous place to sit by yourself and appreciate the beauty, ambience and peacefulness that will add to the mindfulness of all of us patients who are unlucky enough to be in the spinal unit. If you haven’t already done so, give yourself some time to spend in the garden, it can enhance your mood and let the flowers brighten up your day, the playful birds and the bees take your mind away and the overall design to make you feel okay.

You can see more images of Horatio’s Garden accompanying our Elevate artist Pearl Love’s original song ‘Earth is…’ 

Horatio’s Garden is funded entirely by donations. Visit Horatio’s Garden website
Horatio's garden logo with leaf motif in centre