Southern Health have officially opened the new NHS Therapeutic Garden at Parklands Hospital in Basingstoke – designed in partnership with Sparsholt College and Help for Heroes. 

Special guest and local Basingstoke MP Maria Miller cut the ribbon for the ‘makeover’ project, which has been many months in the making.  

The garden has been designed to specifically aid patients on the Ministry of Defence (MOD) ward at the hospital, which treat around 85 MOD personnel each year for mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, bi-polar and schizophrenia. 

In order to design and create the garden, Southern Health partnered with Sparsholt College’s award-winning Horticulture Department, and worked alongside veteran volunteers who’ve received support in the past from Help for Heroes. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning team at Sparsholt designed the garden as a therapeutic space with both stimulating and reflective areas, including the familiar scents of herbs and the gentle movement of ornamental grasses to provide year-round interest. 

Southern Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Karl Marlowe, explained: “There is growing evidence of the therapeutic impact that getting outside and enjoying a garden can have on someone’s mental health, particularly those at their lowest ebb and in need of positive inspiration from nature. This was the reason behind our staff and volunteers fundraising for the special project.” 

After touring the new garden, Maria Miller commented, “It’s wonderful to be at this garden today to see the ‘before and after’. I was here a few months ago and now we see such a fantastic transformation – which will be a huge benefit not only to patients but also to the staff to be able to come outside and use this beautiful space.” 

For more information on the project, visit: 

In 2018, Sparsholt College partnered with Help for Heroes for their RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden display, titled ‘The Force For Good’, which won a gold medal and ‘Best Discovery Exhibit’. The garden design was inspired by conversations between students and veterans and showed the positive impact gardening has on mental health and the role horticulture plays in ongoing support and recovery. 

Find out more about this award-winning garden here.  

With a national reputation for excellence in horticulture and garden design, Sparsholt College’s Horticulture & Plantmanship courses will provide you with the valuable knowledge and training to launch you directly into the industry or higher study at university. Find out more, and apply, here.