From the planning to the planting, the project was a real community effort with 24 volunteers, nine members of staff and 12 others from Friends of the Earth New Forest, New Forest National Park, Gracewells Sway, Milford Pre-School Plus, and Pennington Action Group all coming together. The wildflower meadow was sponsored by Friends of the Earth New Forest, and Patrick Fairweather of Beaulieu sponsors the apothecary.
Decisions on the type of plants included were based on the success of the ‘Grow Wild’ project last year where levels of satisfaction were extraordinarily high. Gill Hickman, Sustainability Consultant on the project, said, “I wanted to plant poppies which seem particularly uplifting and I learnt that they looked particularly good when planted with wildflowers such as ammi, cornflower and corn marigold. A second consideration was the length of flowering season. We have added a high percentage of Cosmos because we noticed that this continued flowering right into December.”
It is hoped that the variety of flowers will attract wildlife and create a beautiful, uplifting space for patients to view while recovering. However, the apothecary is meant to be both healing and edible with Milford Pre-School supporting the area with ‘cut and come again’ salad leaves. Gill added, “I hope the hospital will welcome a couple of tots when they bring them along for planting as it’s a fabulous gesture. The apothecary aims to provide opportunities for therapeutic gardening for patients and nutritious food for patients, relatives or visits.”
Lymington New Forest Hospital is ran by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Peter Hockey, Medical Director, said, “We are very grateful for the hard work Gill and her team have put into the project and we are really looking forward to seeing the flowers bloom for us all to enjoy. The patients last year expressed how this project enhanced their stay with us.”
Lisa Clarke who works at the Hospital has supported the project for two years and said, “It is a great project to be a part of and we were so proud of our work when the flowers came through last year that I was eager to help again this time. The flowers brighten up the hospital not only for the patients, but for the staff too.”
Gill added that she was deeply touched by the level of support the project had and said, “It is wonderful that so many in Lymington want to express their gratitude for their community hospital and are prepared to spend time on rotovating, on weed clearance, or nurturing young plants. I would like to offer my thanks to all those people.”