Gloucestershire Royal Hospital is a large general hospital close to Gloucester city centre. The site, which was once attached to a psychiatric hospital, was redeveloped in the late 1970s and remnants of the original landscape survive today in features such its grass mounds and treescapes. There are many garden areas: highlights include a green cafeteria terrace with a grapevine canopy; a staff wildlife garden with a bug hotel; and a courtyard pharmacy garden with medicinal plants and a teaching area, refurbished in consultation with pharmacy staff. There is a collection of unusual ‘champion trees’ around the site, including tulip trees, a dawn redwood and a spreading medlar, whose brown, softened fruit was traditionally used to make medlar jelly.
Thought has been given to the creation of strategic green routes through the hospital grounds, with the development, for example, of the Beacon House garden, on a small strip of land between an office block and the hospital’s perimeter fence. Once part of the carpark, and then an unsightly area of demolition rubble, this was renovated at minimal cost in 2018 with seating, and perennial planting, on small mounds of soil. Plants such as feather grass, herbaceous geraniums, lavender, evening primrose, and penstemons, were chosen to create a ‘self-filling garden’ which would spread, self-seed and keep going with little support.
The addition of a woodchip path has opened up an alternative route into the hospital from the direction of the railway station, and provides green views from the main road and the hospital offices. Its seating areas are well used by staff for breaks. The landscape team make a point of repurposing materials from the site itself, from reclaimed fencing to the wood chip generated by on-site tree surgery.