SALISBURY-BASED charity Horatio’s Garden is a familiar face at the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show but this year it has been forced to celebrate it virtually.

The garden charity regularly has a stand at the world-renowned flower show, which would have taken place this week.

Horatio’s Garden provides gardens at NHS spinal injury centres to help those affected by spinal injury. The first was opened in 2012 at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment at Salisbury District Hospital.

Dr Olivia Chapple, the charity’s co-founder and chair of trustees, hopes discussions over the importance of gardens for health and wellbeing will be sparked over the week as well as into future.

“It is a time when everyone is thinking about gardens and particularly this year because of the pandemic and the big focus on the NHS I think people are really interested in what we are doing at the moment and how we have really shown that you can make a very small place in a hospital into somewhere extraordinary, which really does improve people’s wellbeing, their mood and their recovery.

“That is really the important focus and for us moving forward from this and learning how important those outside spaces are in hospitals.”

“So many patients are telling us the garden is the place that is getting them through,” explains Olivia.

“It makes a huge difference to people’s mental health and that in spinal injury is more than half the battle. It is trying to find a place of calm and a bit of hope for the future. We know that nature and gardens can do that.”

During the week of Chelsea, Horatio’s Garden will be running a number of videos as well as a look back on previous outings at Chelsea on its social media pages.

Speaking about the Chelsea Flower Show, Olivia said she was very “upset” and “sad” that it was not going ahead this year, adding: “It is such a showcase for our work and being able to talk to people about the benefits of gardens for health and the importance of gardens in hospitals and why they do make difference to people.”

It also provides the charity with a platform to raise vital funds.

Olivia is encouraging supporters to visit its online shop and to get involved in its Grow to Give campaign to support the charity.

It is due to open its fifth in London in August with plans to build another one in Cardiff.

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