Hospice Theraputic Garden

Client Brief: The Hospiscare Garden was designed to meet the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of people with terminal illnesses, their families and caregivers. Hospiscare asked for a modern, spa-like and soothing garden.

Philosophy. This design was guided by the ideas of providing sanctuary and contemplation in a beautiful and contemporary garden. The garden is intended to be a place where people feel lifted from themselves and transported to a place which stimulates the senses while calming the spirit.

Design. Inspired by meandering meadow paths, the garden is curvaceous and contemplative. For year-round structure and interest, there is architectural structure with evergreen hedges. Trees have soft up-lighting and there is a vibrant under-planting of herbaceous perennials. Other key features include a sunken seating area with central water feature; recessed benches within plantings and Corten steel art to complement the purple and rust-coloured tapestry of flower plantings. The awning provides a shelter from the sun and rain as while providing a performance space. Trees and shrubs attract birds and butterflies. Privacy from neighbouring sight-lines has also been created.

1. Seating and Water Feature. Three individual benches are recessed into plantings under tree canopies. Inside the circular seating area are additional benches for small groups of people. A focal point of the garden, the space feels like a refuge and embrace and is where a spherical water fountain is surrounded by a cluster of smooth river rocks. From here, paving radiates outward like water ripples from a pebble dropped in water.

2. Flower beds. A restful, naturalistic planting of sumptuous purples and blue is set against Corten steel art designed by Kathryn Aalto. The flower composition is composed of plants that are mostly drought-tolerant so that maintenance is minimised. Mounded boxwoods add structure and evergreen colour to beds of herbaceous perennials.

3. Year-round interest. Evergreen hedges of hornbeam and box define the space in all seasons. They add serenity, simplicity and greenery to the garden. The sculptural and multi-stemmed Amelanchier canadensis will be carefully trimmed to not exceed 3 metres. They offer interest all year-round: white flowers in spring, berries in summer and a flush of crimson and orange leaves in autumn. They are a repeating motif in the garden and create moving swirls of dappled light on the paving as the sun passes overhead.

4. Paving. Slate pavers add a sophisticated and contemporary feel to the garden.

5. Vegetable beds. Raised Corten steel planters provide a place for tending herbs and flowers and is a place for patients to get their hands in dirt and feel a part of nature.