Moulton College joins forces with medical centre to design holistic garden

Picture by Colin Bridges
Picture by Colin Bridges

Moulton College is joining forces with a new medical centre to provide its horticultural degree students with an opportunity to get some real-life experience by entering a competition to design a holistic garden.

The college delivers the degree course covering horticulture and garden design and has worked with Linford Wood Medical Centre to create guidelines and points for students to consider.

Linford Wood Medical Centre opened in Milton Keynes at the end of last year, and provides a range of diagnostic and outpatient procedures as well as an integrated oncology unit providing non-surgical cancer treatments including advanced, image guided radiotherapy. The garden is adjacent to the chemotherapy unit which will be opened later this year.

Senior horticultural lecturer at Moulton College, Adrian Stockdale, said: “We are thrilled to get involved and enable our students to work with a real brief rather than just hypothetical ones. They have the reality of budget limits and timelines to adhere to, as well as the need to really think about how the garden is going to be used.

“The garden can be seen from various areas within the centre – including many windows looking out to it from the chemotherapy unit. These viewpoints need to be considered. Our students will also take into account the needs of all patients visiting the centre – but particularly its cancer patients. This makes it a challenging and very interesting project. It has certainly got the students thinking outside of the box.”

Linford Wood Medical Centre manager, Stuart Southgate, added: “In the centre we’ve created an environment which offers high tech and advanced treatments, but in a calm environment. Patients want to have convenient access to treatment in a comfortable environment that doesn’t constantly remind them they are ill, but inspires a feeling of wellness.

“We want to extend this holistic approach beyond the building too, and are delighted to enlist the help of Moulton College to come up with a plan for the garden.”

Linford Wood’s oncology patients have access to its Living Well suite which is run by Penny Brohn Cancer Care, a charity which uses a combination of physical, emotional and spiritual support to help people to ‘live well’ with cancer.

Stuart added: “Penny Brohn’s national centre in Bristol has fantastic organic, sensory gardens which the students could seek inspiration from.”

Some of the students attended a site visit where they took measurements, pictures and gained an understanding of the centre’s ethos and its patients’ needs.

Robert Stratford, a first year student, said: “This is an exciting and interesting project. It is nice to bring health ideas into a garden design, which opens up all kinds of opportunities.”

Georgina Kirkpatrick who is in her second year, added: “Personally, I see this garden as being an extension from the chemotherapy unit – and will do my best to bring the warmth, space and curvaceous interior into the garden space. It’ll be interesting to investigate plants that will offer the right colour and possibly even calming qualities.”

The judging panel will include representatives from Linford Wood Medical Centre, Cancer Partners UK which runs the centre, Penny Brohn Cancer Care and Thomas Redding Garden Services. The winning student will receive VIP tickets to attend the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July.