The Royal Free garden volunteers work on the external environment of the Royal Free Hospital, to provide a more welcoming and attractive introduction to the hospital for patients, staff and visitors.
Work started in autumn 2015 on Pond Street, by the main hospital sign. This is the area where television crews film when a member of staff is being interviewed, so it’s an important part of the public face of the hospital – as well as providing a bright, cheerful, flower-filled view for passers-by.
In 2016, we extended our efforts further down Pond Street, under the big trees. We also started work on the planters in front of the main pedestrian entrance by the coffee shop. This is where patients and visitors sit for a breath of fresh air, so we wanted to provide a glimpse of green and a scent of lavender for people who may be facing a difficult or stressful time.
Eventually we will work further down the hill, and link up with Hampstead Green, by St Stephen’s church. In fact we’ll brighten up any neglected space we can find around the hospital grounds.
We are a friendly group and we welcome gardeners of all abilities. We provide opportunities for people (including horticultural students) to design and plan the planting, but we also need people to organise the volunteers, liaise with local businesses to raise funds and donations, dig, plant, weed, and water – as well as making the tea and shaking the fundraising tins on our planting days. We often gather on Saturday mornings, but some of our regular volunteers also work during the week, especially during the summer when there’s the most need for watering and weeding. The work is seasonal, depending on the needs of the garden, but bad weather doesn’t stop us!
We are currently raising funds to buy more plants and materials. If you would like to contribute please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/royalfreegardeningproject.