An unused space behind the Royal London Hospital has been transformed into a peaceful, green oasis and aims to deliver a relaxing, therapeutic space to promote positive mental health. The space at Stepney Way, Whitechapel E1 2JL was officially opened on 19 September to celebrate health and horticulture.
The project was invited to the Royal London Hospital site by Tower Hamlets Council’s Whitechapel Vision delivery team, the public health team and Barts Health NHS Trust.
The garden project by Core Landscapes is designed to be movable making use of temporarily available land as and when it becomes available so everything is container grown from Hornbeam trees to salad leaves. Community and corporate volunteers along with support from local authorities, developers and the private sector help the project overcome logistical challenges to move and relocate when a lease expires.
Mayor John Biggs said: “This is an inventive way of using space on a temporary basis, and a great initiative to promote positive mental health for those who visit”.
The garden welcomes volunteers on Tuesdays and horticultural workshops on Thursdays and is open to the public both days from 10am – 4pm for gardening advice and plant sales. Volunteers and students learn about plant propagation, identification, food-growing, design and maintenance.
Dr Ian Basnett, Public Health Director at Barts Health NHS Trust said: “Health and horticulture have shared history and it’s fantastic to see the wonderful space behind St Phillips church being put to such good use. As well as offering a peaceful space for staff and patients, the meantime garden is involving volunteers from the local community who are positive about the therapeutic benefits of gardening.”
The training sessions produce lots of plants that go on sale at a very reasonable price to the public helping to cover some project costs like tools, seeds and compost. Local people also donate unwanted pots and tools, shrubs and plants that are then nursed back to health and propagated.
Core Landscapes manager Nemone Mercer said: ‘We don’t yet know how long we will be able to stay on this site, but we hope to move nearby when we next move. It’s a fantastic location and people are loving the space we have all created together.”
To find out more, see the Core Landscapes website.