Dorking hospital garden rejuvenated with help from the community

A grant from the NGS Elsie Wagg (Innovation) Scholarship programme is helping to improve the garden at the Dorking Community Hospital as part of a wider ‘Pulling Together’ initiative. The aim is to redesign and rejuvenate the garden with a focus on intergenerational and cross-cultural interaction; through talking in a relaxed space, sharing memories and stories; growing food to learn about nature and encouraging conversation about the environment; sharing the food, sharing break times, memories, time and space by bringing children and older people together to create a sense of community.

Working with local groups including Dorking Rotary, Dorking Men’s Shed and children from the Priory School, work on refurbishing the furniture, keeping it tidy and growing edibles is coming on a pace.

For the local school children it’s not just about learning how to weed, sow, plant and harvest but they also have the opportunity to share the garden with patients and chat in a relaxed setting.


Project lead, Simon Littlefield says: “The garden in itself is a wonderful thing, but the time spent in the garden and the people you spend that time with, is one of the key benefits. The garden is about connecting – Growing Together – Sharing Together. The vision is to use the space for patient rehabilitation, bringing them to the outdoors, into a therapeutic space. The garden adjoins the community rehabilitation ward, allows interaction on a different level, in a different space to keep the mind, body and spirit energised for longer. Health benefits include using the space for conversation/health promotion as a space to talk about health and prevention of ill health.

“The garden will be a space for children, for teaching and education, learning and growing. There is the opportunity for life-long learning – engaging children in social and developmental opportunities. The garden will also be a space for staff to relax and unwind, where they feel they can switch off and recharge their batteries.

“There is the opportunity to form a blueprint for other local communities, the springboard of innovation and inspire others. Introducing green spaces, part of the national agenda, educating about nature, about plants and the concepts of gardening and growing your own.”

Our video brings together many of the contributors to the garden and explains what it means to them:


Applications for the 2024 NGS Elsie Wagg (Innovation) Scholarship will open in September  – more information about the Scholarship click here


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