Hampton Court's Best Summer Garden to help with brain rehabilitation

'A Different Point of View', the Hampton Court show garden created for Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People, will form part of a new specialist rehabilitation centre.

'A Different Point of View' garden. Image: QEF
'A Different Point of View' garden. Image: QEF

The centre at Leatherhead will be used by people with acquired brain injuries as part of the therapeutic process.

The garden won a Gold Medal and the Best Summer Garden awards at Hampton Court. It was designed and created by Juliet Hutt of Charlotte Rowe Garden Design and is her first solo show garden. Diggerz Landscapes took charge of construction.

The garden is conceived as quiet space for reflection. It is partly enclosed by soft hornbeam hedging, which provides a green backdrop for large tinted and aged mirrors.

Explaining the therapeutic rationale behind the garden, QEF medical director Dr Julian Harriss said: "A garden is a calm, beautiful place where we can reflect on our own abilities, and enjoy observing others performing familiar purposeful tasks - planting, watering, and pruning.

"At QEF we have changed the way we deliver specialist rehab therapies, as we have come to understand the role of "mirror neurons" in learning and re-learning skills such as these. We now appreciate how important it is for us to watch, consider, and contemplate what others do around us.

"In this way, our brains are constantly busy studying, rehearsing, and mimicking everyone around us, so that we can instantly interact as only social animals like humans can do. We now understand how important it is for our clients to start therapy as soon as possible, because even if it seems that they are just sitting quietly in the garden, there is a cascade of recovery going on inside."

Also in the garden are three multi-stemmed trees providing dappled shade with ferns and shade-loving perennials positioned behind, creating rich shadows and reflections which will continuously change as the sun moves around the garden. The plants are predominantly native British species, to provide a rich habitat for wildlife once the garden is relocated.

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