Green shoots to recovery … Gartnavel to reveal its ‘hidden garden’ to the public

By Ian Marland at

They were set out in an era before hi-tech clinical treatments and interventions.

The gardens at Gartnavel Royal Hospital were designed in the 1830s as a place to ease the mind.

But after periods of neglect, the ‘secret gardens’ have been revived in recent years.

This weekend Gartnavel will invite the public to look around and discover a hidden space.

Gartnavel's Walled Garden

Walled Garden: an oasis of calm in the heart of the West End

Bryony White co-ordinates a project that brings together patients, volunteers and members of the public to look after the gardens.

She says the space is open to anyone and everyone to come in and look around anytime – but the fact is people just don’t know it’s there.

Bryony said: “The beautiful Walled Garden and the Summerhouse gardens are 200 years old.

‘No barriers’

“It was all restored by the Green Exercise Partnership five or six years ago.

“The space is for patients, it’s for staff and it’s for the general public.

“Anyone can come and visit anytime they want – the gardens are open 24/7.

“There’s no charge, there’s no barriers to coming in.”

Gartnavel Gardens

Tulips provide a riot of colour in the Summerhouse garden

The gardens help patients with mental health conditions to relax and de-stress.

A team of volunteers help a project that aims to break down the barriers and stigma around mental health.

Bryony, who works for The Conservation Volunteers charity, says: “The real core of this garden is as a therapeutic space.

‘Good evidence’

“There is very good evidence now about the benefits of green exercise and being outdoors.

“And gardening, in particular, can be a really restful and peaceful activity.

“It’s not clinical, which is something our patients really, really appreciate.

Gartnavel Gardens

The gardens were originally laid out in the 1830s

“A lot of their time is taken up with clinical treatment.

“When they come up here, we don’t talk about what’s wrong with them.

“We talk about the garden and we can focus just on the garden, and being out in nature and listening to the birds and looking at the plants.”

‘Therapeutic’

“It’s a calm, peaceful therapeutic space in the heart of the West End.

“It’s a very secret space, and you can often be sat here and not hear any human intervention, apart from the trains down on the railway sometimes.

“It’s a very a beautiful and peaceful spot.”

Map of the garden

The gardens are a short walk from Hyndland Station and bus routes on Great Western Road

She says: “The Open Day is about raising money and raising awareness – people don’t know these gardens are here.

“They are a fantastic resource that more people should know about and be aware of.

“But there isn’t much in the way of a budget in this day and age in the hospitals for gardening.

“We have a plant sales area at the bottom of the garden that is there again 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it runs on an honesty box system.


Watch: the ‘Secret Garden’ of Gartnavel Royal Hospital

“We only started it last summer and in the first season raised a couple of hundred pounds.”

* The gardens at Gartnavel Royal Hospital are open between midday and 5pm Sunday May 12. Admission £6, children free.