THE DELIGHTFUL gardens at the Marie Curie West Midlands Hospice in Solihull will be open to the public as part of the National Garden Scheme this weekend.
From 11am until 4pm on Sunday there will be lots of activities for all the family including a children’s quiz, garden hoopla, a plant sale and a children’s wildlife area.
The rooms at the hospice are all arranged around the gardens giving easy access to both patients and their families.
The gardens include two large, formally laid out patient’s gardens, indoor courtyards, a vegetable plot and a wildlife and pond area at the rear of the hospice.
Ally Barrett is one of the many garden volunteers at the hospice and her dad was also cared for there too.
She said: “I first heard about the work of Marie Curie the day we realised my father was too ill for me and my family to look after him.
“The hospice provided a room, round the clock care and he was there for four days before he passed away.
“My father was a life-long keen gardener but he was too ill to get out of bed at the hospice.
“For me and the rest of the family the gardens provided a space to reflect, to garner some strength, to calm down.
“For split seconds, I was distracted by colours, smells, and the simple act of walking.
“My eldest brother also found solace by walking around the gardens, especially the woodland area.
“Last year he raised hundreds of pounds for the hospice by completing a 54-mile walk – he specifically donated money to the gardens to buy four trees which have been planted in the woodland area.
“It is impossible to describe the help, in the most desperate of times that Marie Curie provided for my father and family.
“To this day, I find it difficult to describe the compassion, kindness, understanding, care and thoughtfulness that the staff and volunteers gave to us every minute of those four days.”
Ally has been volunteering at the hospice since August 2015 and says she wanted to give something back for the help and support her family received.
In the last 12 months she and a couple of volunteers have created Plant Identification Boards, placed in each border.
They also decided to display a few photos and an uplifting or thought-provoking poem to try and help relieve some of the sadness, sorrow or pain that patients and families feel.
She added: “We all handle these moments of losing a loved one differently, but I think it’s a default humanistic reaction in each of us to respond to nature in a positive way – a few words of poetry, a photograph, might help this along too.
“For me personally, the gardens reflect the kindness and professional care my father was receiving at the hospice. It assured me that everything that could be done was being done.
“The whole design allows patients and families to feel some peace, some kindness, or maybe to just ground oneself again. I know for certain the gardens did this for me and my family.
“I’m really looking forward to the garden opening for the National Garden Scheme next weekend so that others can see and enjoy the beautiful surroundings which are so important to me and many others.”
Do Connolly, one of the volunteers helping organise the day added: “It is great to provide this opportunity for local people to visit the Marie Curie Hospice, West Midlands to enjoy the gardens.
“They are managed and maintained by about 20 volunteers and we are delighted to share these peaceful grounds with others.
“I had never visited a hospice before being invited to the garden and I’m very pleased to now be part of this amazing place.”
The National Garden Scheme has been supporting Marie Curie for over 20 years with more than £8 million donated, making them the charity’s single biggest donor and helping provide care and support to thousands of people living with terminal illnesses, and their families.
The gardens will be open from 11am – 4pm on Sunday (2 July) and admission is £3.50 for adults and children are free. Parking is restricted to blue badge holders only.
For more information visit www.ngs.org.uk.