Congratulations to all the winners from our 2023 NHS Forest Awards. We are always impressed by the quality and range of the projects and this year was no different. We hope you find the different projects both as interesting and inspirational as we do.
Award: Innovative development of green space at health sites
Lambeth Community Care Centre, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
For the last six years patients at Lambeth Community Care Centre have benefitted from using the limb care therapy garden to improve their wheelchair skills, standing balance and core stability. The garden includes six raised beds designed for herb and vegatable growing. There is also a wheelchair accessible greenhouse for use in inclement weather. The garden not only helps improve the mental health of patients but also helps them realise their potential as prosthetic and wheelchair users. There is also a gardening group held weekly to help patients relax and spend some time outside of a clinical environment.
Runner-up: The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust installed vertical gardens, or living walls, to maximize greenery in limited spaces. These walls not only enhance the aesthetics of the site but also provide additional habitats for various plants, insects, and even small vertebrates.
Award: Active community engagement
Park Road Houses, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
The Park Road Garden Project, a collaborative effort between dedicated staff, resilient patients and enthusiastic volunteers aimed to transform a barren space into a vibrant and accessible garden. Over the course of several months, the team undertook various activities, including building a shed and greenhouse, creating wheelchair-accessible pathways and planting a diverse array of flora.
The impact of the Park Road Garden Project has been transformative. Beyond the physical transformation of a once-sterile space, the project created a sense of belonging and unity among staff, patients and volunteers. The garden now stands as a symbol of community strength, resilience and shared purpose. It has become a therapeutic haven, promoting mental wellbeing and a connection to nature. Additionally, the project inspired a spirit of inclusivity, breaking down barriers and providing a space where everyone, regardless of ability, can participate and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Runner-up: Cripps Health Centre
The allotment group was the brainchild of Georgia, a social prescriber at Cripps Health Centre. She set up a task group, comprised of staff and patients and sourced funding for several raised beds, a shed, various pieces of gardening equipment and lots and lots of topsoil. The group has been very well attended by patients registered at the University of Nottingham health service. Lots of planting was completed by the group and very quickly the site became vibrant with various flowers, fruits and vegetables. Some of these are taken home by the group members and staff, but many of the vegetables are donated to Guru Nanak’s Mission in Nottingham to be added to the meals they cook for those in need twice a week.
Award: Pioneering use of green space by healthcare professionals
Littlemore Mental Health Centre, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with Earthwatch Europe and MINI Electric, planted its first Tiny Forest at Littlemore Mental Health Centre on December 6, 2021. The Littlemore Tiny Forest is home to approximately 600 saplings of 18 different tree species, which will help boost biodiversity on the site and create a green space for staff, patients and visitors to reconnect with nature and find quiet sanctuary.
As part of regular monitoring of the Tiny Forest, the team complete science days with staff and patients to find out more about how the project can have a positive impact for patients, staff and visitors to the hospital. Both the Learning Disability and Child & Adolescent Mental Health services have used the Tiny Forest as part of patient therapy.
The Tiny Forest science days include learning about:
• Wildlife in the forest including butterflies, bees, and bugs
• How trees can capture and store carbon from the air we breathe
• The forest’s ability to store water
• The cooling benefits of the trees
• The restorative power of nature
Runner-up: University Hospital Llandough, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Since June 2020, Down to Earth (DTE) have partnered with Cardiff and Vale Health Charity and Cardiff & Vale University Health Board to co-design and deliver green infrastructure to facilitate rehabilitation and recovery programmes at University Hospital Llandough near Cardiff, south Wales. Since September 2021, the project has worked with over over 1600 patients and outpatients, NHS staff and community group members who have engaged in 505 sessions via a variety of different programmes on Our Health Meadow. An additional 409 people in the community have engaged with wellbeing activities via local school engagement days and open days.
Award: Successful ways to support biodiversity
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust has worked on a number of projects to support biodiveristy:
Outdoor education spaces for kids: Outdoor spaces were created to engage young learners in environmental education, helping them develop a deep appreciation for the natural world and the importance of biodiversity conservation.
Living walls: Vertical gardens, or living walls, were installed to maximize greenery in limited spaces. These walls not only enhance the aesthetics of hte site but also provide additional habitats for various plants, insects, and even small vertebrates.
Permeable concrete: The use of permeable concrete in walkways and parking areas ensures that rainwater can infiltrate the soil rather than causing runoff. This not only helps recharge groundwater but also supports the growth of ground-level vegetation.
Native planting: Indigenous plant species were prioritized in landscaping as they are better adapted to the local environment and provide essential resources for native wildlife.
Reuse of materials on site: To minimize waste and environmental impact, existing materials from the site were repurposed wherever possible. This sustainable approach reduced the need for new resources and energy consumption.
Additional biodiversity initiatives: To further enrich biodiversity, birdhouses, bat boxes, and ponds were integrated into the site, creating additional habitats for a wide range of fauna. Additionally, the use of organic mulch and compost promotes healthy soil and plant growth.
These combined efforts have not only transformed the site into a lush and vibrant landscape but have also created a haven for native flora and fauna. The site now stands as a testament to the commitment to biodiversity conservation and sustainable environmental practices, serving as a model for similar projects aiming to harmonise human development with nature.
Runner-up: Princess Anne Hospital, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
Princess Anne Hospital Staff Roof Garden at University Hospital Southampton NHS FT (UHS) is one of the projects funded through the Banksy Game Changer artwork donation. A condition of the donation was that a proportion of projects funded were for the benefit of staff in recognition of the sacrifices made during the pandemic. The project delivered a rooftop garden with all-hours access. The project also supported the UHS 2022-2025 Green Plan through extensive biodiversity provision and improvements. The staff garden comprises of seating areas, planters and and a nature friendly biodiverse green roof of wildflower meadow with viewing platform.
Award: Most trees planted for the NHS Forest in 2021-22
Guild Park Grow Your Own, Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust and Baldock Surgery
Both Guild Park Grow Your Own and Baldock Surgery planted 1000 trees each during the 2022-2023 tree planting season. Will you be our biggest tree planter for the 2023-2024 season? Visit our tree planting page to find out how you can order free trees for your site.
There were also several projects that we wanted to give noteable mentions.
Darwin Nurseries and Farm Shop
Darwin Nurseries and Farm Shop is a 7.5 acre site that provides day care services for people with learning disabilities and mental health challenges through therapeutic horticulture activities, therapeutic animal care activities and Farm Shop work experience. They have been making a difference to peoples lives for over 27 years as a green space funded by the NHS.
During Covid much of their activities had to be pared back as co-workers who used the service were unable to attend. That meant that their main areas for growing had to be grassed over to make them easier to maintain. Over the last year or so they have been able to put together a plan to reinstate their ‘permaculture beds’ using a ‘no dig’ approach and installing a water-saving irrigation system.
Staff at Stratford-Upon-Avon Hospital had often mentioned the lack of outdoor space to enjoy and unwind during their breaks and downtime from their shift, so the team there created the Garden of Wellbeing to offer a vibrant and tranquil green space to relax amongst nature. There is also a kitchen garden with edible plants and a polytunnel for growing on plants for the local community and edibles to supply the hospital café and local care homes. It has also been used by their Green Therapy group.
There are many areas of green space around the hospital where patients and staff can sit in the gardens and watch bees and butterflies. There is also the wildflower meadow by the staff carpark where foxes and jays have been spotted and the allotment where fresh produce is grown. Additionally there are a huge number of different trees around the site. The Green Routes map has helped staff and patients find many of these areas.