Work underway at JPS-designed dementia garden at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Work has started this week on a dementia garden for patients at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Bright colours and familiar scents are key to The Petal Garden design. Image: JPS
Bright colours and familiar scents are key to The Petal Garden design. Image: JPS

The Petal Garden has been designed by managing director of Janine Pattison Studios (JPS) Denise Wright as part of a pro bono project suggested by the design practice after Wright and practice founder Janine Pattison saw a neglected and overgrown courtyard.

She said a high number of dementia patients never go home, and with limited staff there may not be anyone to accompany them outside, leaving them stuck indoors. Meanwhile the courtyard was "crying out to be brought into use."

The hospital has five dementia wards, and Wright’s design features five petal-shaped areas which represent each ward and can be looked after by patients staying there. Each ‘petal’ has a large raised bed, which gradually gets higher to enable standing, seating and kneeling work.

Pattison said: "The ethos of the whole garden is that petals are quite fragile but they are like memories. Because it’s a dementia ward, it’s all about memories and triggering memories." The planting will include lavender and rosemary to trigger scent memories.

"We’ve got a wonderful old potting shed, which was donated. We wanted to try and not just have a new thing that landed from space. It’s recycling but also the element of smells. Some people have also donated old tools, worn by years of use and there’s a greenhouse as well." She said it was important that the garden was not like a show garden but a starting point.      

"We want people to do things in the garden. None of the plants are going to come in as big mature plants, we are growing things from seed and cuttings."

No NHS funds have been spent on the £20,000 project, with money, materials and work in kind sourced through fundraising and from hospital contractors.

JPS staff are due to plant the garden as a team-building exercise in September. The biggest donation of £6,000 was from Bournemouth-headquartered Liverpool Victoria. "It was enough to get the whole project started and to take it seriously," Pattison said.  

Wright and Pattison found the hospital had already ear-marked the courtyard for redevelopment but did not have the funds to continue. Therefore the estates manager and hospital fundraiser did all they could to help.

"The estates manager went to the suppliers working at the hospital. It was amazing, the response was great," Pattison said. "It’s all grass roots stuff, it’s Big Society really. Nurses from the wards have held bake sales, it’s been a real community effort."

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