Following a summer of sowing and growing, an award celebration brought jazz, straw bales and popstar glamour to Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. Judges toured the West London grounds to view dozens of green spaces coaxed into bloom by health workers in courtyards, entrances and outdoor seating areas. More than 100 staff signed up in June to the site-wide gardening competition launched by our Nature Recovery Ranger, Karen MacKelvie, as part of the Green Space for Health programme.
The judges were led by singer and television garden designer Kim Wilde. She was joined by Juliet Fitzpatrick, a former patient, flower farmer and campaigner for choice in breast cancer treatment; Pete Ostler, a clinical oncologist at the hospital; and Athene Reiss, partnerships manager at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.
Prizes included the ‘Honeypot Award’ won by Bishops Wood physiotherapists for the most flowerheads per square metre; and the ‘Heston Blumenthal Award’ won by the Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre for the most edible and sniffable garden, complete with chocolate-scented mint and aromatic sages. A burst of geraniums and roses planted in a small space between buildings at the end of an alleyway, scooped radiotherapy staff the ‘Swan Award’ for the most impressive before and after. The ‘Best in Show’ prize, selected by Wilde herself, went to the nuclear medicine department, for a garden designed to welcome in wildlife, with bird feeders, a hedgehog home and pollinator-friendly flowers.
Radiographer Sally Morgan, a member of the winning team, said: “It’s a really nice initiative: it’s got us outside for breaks and I think the patients have really enjoyed it.” As a result of their work she added, more people now used their outdoor space at lunchtime. The hospital’s Divisional Director, Sarah James said the celebration was a thank you to health staff, who had gone above and beyond during a very challenging 18 months.
As the jazz band played on, a line of volunteers paced across newly prepared ground on the lower lawns to scatter native perennial wildflower seed for the spring.