Founded in 1903 as an infirmary for epilepsy patients with attractive gardens to facilitate patients’ health, Liverpool’s Broadgreen Hospital is now a modern teaching hospital that once again welcomes nature onto its grounds. All over the extensive site, healthy living – including exercise, food and therapeutic recovery – is getting a green makeover to enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of its patients and staff.
An outdoor gym, installed with the help of The Conservation Volunteers, encourages exercise in the fresh air and sunshine, to enhance the health benefits of working out. The therapies garden is a restorative, safe space where people recovering from major trauma can exercise and retrain, and is being renovated to include accessible gardening activities.
New and improved food growing pots and plots all around the site are turning Broadgreen into an ‘Incredible Edible’ hospital. Wildlife-friendly edible plants encourage pollinators and provide food for birds, while giving people the chance to enjoy gardening and reap their own edible rewards. A new orchard will produce fruit for juicing and eating, by people and wildlife.
Since 2021, the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare’s Nature Recovery Ranger Fiona Megarrell has been advising Broadgreen on how to boost biodiversity through these gardens and other planting schemes. Her introduction of ‘No Mow May’ has made space for dormant pyramidal and bee orchids to flower again, while oxeye daisies, foxgloves and other wildflowers are being allowed to grow as well as planted in new spaces. The pollen they produce will feed the British black bees (our original native honeybee); Broadgreen is looking into establishing on-site beehives for them that will be looked after by hospital staff.
Not ignoring the big plants, a joint project between the chaplain and the Nature Recovery Ranger will see a new avenue of beech trees planted in late 2021 in memory of those lost to the Covid-19 pandemic. This will create shady areas for staff, patients and visitors to stroll through and sit in. Ranger-led bird walks, butterfly counts and flower ID sessions help staff, patients, visitors and members of the local community better understand and appreciate the surprising abundance of flora and fauna that are being encouraged to thrive here.