A year-long project to create extensive new community gardens at a Derwentside hospice is blossoming into life.
As part of the development of its new inpatient unit, the Helen McArdle Wing, Willow Burn Hospice in Lanchester has turned an adjacent 1.2 acre piece of land into a relaxing and practical outside space that can be used by residents, families and people living nearby.
Hospice patients, staff and volunteers were all involved in the design and development of the garden, which is made up of four distinct areas, to ensure it contained all the facilities they wanted to see.
A new landscaped section including wildflower areas, a lawn, glazed feature wall, outdoor terrace, shrubs and borders containing sensory planting and light canopy trees has been created alongside a working garden that features a shed, greenhouse, composting area and raised planters.
A woodland meadow filled with wild floral and native woodland bulbs will be accessible to all via the hospice’s community café once it reopens after the coronavirus outbreak subsides, while woodland planting will be used for training, therapeutic and food growing initiatives.
The garden also includes a network of footpaths, including a memory path along which families can place engraved bricks as memorials to their loved ones, while a public patio enclosed by woodland and clipped hedges will be open to the public and available to hire for events and functions once it is able to welcome guests again.
A £25,000 grant provided by the County Durham-headquartered Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund has covered one third of the overall project cost, while the remainder was funded by the Stanley Smith Horticultural Fund and the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Founded in 1989, Willow Burn Hospice aims to improve the quality of life for people living with terminal and life-limiting illnesses while also supporting families and carers by offering high-quality community-based palliative and end of life care.
It is the only adult hospice in Derwentside and provides a range of specialist services that enable people with a palliative diagnosis to make the most out of life, including aromatherapy, reiki, massage and relaxation sessions.
Paul Jackson, chairman at Willow Burn Hospice, says: “Our community garden is an exciting expansion to Willow Burn – it’s looking fantastic in the spring sunshine and we’re all looking forward to being able to make full use of it in the not-too-distant future.
“Once things return to normal, we’re hoping to see lots of new faces from the community here at Willow Burn taking in the wonderful views of the Derwent Valley, walking around the gardens or enjoying refreshments in the Willows Café.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to Banks Community Fund – we couldn’t have done this without their generous contribution.”
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “It’s wonderful to see what’s been created at Willow Burn, and as a long-established County Durham business, we’re very pleased to have helped the team realise their garden plans.”
For further information on Willow Burn’s garden project and the services it provides, please visit https://willow-burn.co.uk
Anyone interested in applying for funding should first contact the fund manager for The Banks Community Fund at the County Durham Community Foundation via firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.