The garden during Winter frost at Chestnut Tree House

Our Blog

Welcome to our gardens!

by Ollie Field, Gardener at Chestnut Tree House

The gardens are an important part of Chestnut Tree House – a place where children, young people, families, and staff can go to relax and reflect. Our beautiful grounds and gardens provide a chance to play and have fun in the fresh air, and all children’s bedrooms look out onto the gardens, which are easily accessible – we can even take beds outside.

Surrounded by nature

We are very privileged to have access to a beautiful outdoor space. Not only that, but we are surrounded by natural landscapes, much of which is largely undisturbed and living happily and naturally. This means that on any given morning, you may see the resident herd of wild deer bouncing their way across the fields; a couple of foxes playing in the woodland; or any number of fantastic and compelling birds of prey circling our orchard.

The British countryside and its inhabitants aren’t all we have to offer here though. Each different area in our gardens is designed to offer something unique for different needs, and the beauty of gardening and landscaping is that these can evolve and change along with those needs. My role means keeping in tune with the needs of children, families and our staff as well as the plant life itself, to ensure they can both be of maximum benefit to each other. Here, I want to tell you about two areas of Chestnut Tree House – the Woodland Walk (where children love to go on bug hunts!) and our peaceful memorial garden.

Woodland Walk

The Woodland Walk offers a space to feel like you’re out in the wild, amongst the trees, or camping in the woods and searching for creatures. As such, it needs to be kept looking natural but maintained, interesting but safe. This means we regularly spot weed nettles or brambles, constantly protect young trees and plants from becoming dinner and adding in points of interest that finely walk the line between naturalistic and attractive.

Being accessible

Many of the children cared for by Chestnut Tree House are unable to visit ‘regular’ woodlands as they are often inaccessible to wheelchair users. Our Woodland Walk is accessible for children and young people in wheelchairs and beds. Due to the materials used to create the path, this area doesn’t get slippery and still looks like a natural wooden path.

Garden accessibility at Chestnut Tree House Blog

Encouraging wildlife

We have a squirrel maze, bug hotel and dedicated bug zone in the Woodland Walk for children and young people to go on a bug hunt and explore nature. Our bug zone is an area of fallen trees – not only is this an area loved by children, it also cuts down on waste.

Squirrel Maze at Chestnut Tree House

Meadow Garden

Our Meadow Garden is a tranquil space for remembrance and reflection and is an important area for families and staff at the hospice. This area, from a gardening and maintenance perspective, is almost the opposite of the Woodland Walk, with clean cut lawns, carefully laid out paths and crisp beech hedges – helping to form a peaceful, pretty and respectful space, centered around the beautiful memorial fountain.

Celebration of life

In all seasons, this garden stands strong and is a colourful and bright celebration of life. The beech hedges undergo dramatic colour changes across the seasons, paired with the ever reliable and attractive dogwoods. During Spring the garden is full of daffodils, alliums and tulips before the mixed summer borders burst into full colour, swaying in the winds with the grasses and the wildflower meadows until the very end of autumn.

The garden during Summer at Chestnut Tree House

The Memorial Garden requires more attention to detail and regular maintenance, from deadheading flowers and hedge trimming to weekly lawn mowing and edging, as well as constant evaluation of the borders and the appearance of the plants, all to ensure that this space looks its best year-round, whenever anyone chooses to come and visit it.

Chat to us!

These are just two areas of the hospice gardens. We have lots of other spaces to explore and enjoy. Each area serves a different purpose, so if you have any questions about what you spot in the gardens at Chestnut Tree House, be sure to ask myself or our Head Gardener, Nick, we’d love to chat!

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