THE RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s award-winning Florence Nightingale Garden has been rebuilt at St Thomas’ Hospital to celebrate International Nurses’ Day.
Opened on the 202nd anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, the garden will provide a place of respite and recovery for patients and staff. The theme of the garden is ‘nurture through nature’ and reflects the life and character of Florence and some of her ideas about the importance of green spaces, light and air in hospital settings.
The garden was designed by Robert Myers and sponsored by the Burdett Trust for Nursing to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Florence, and to celebrate the importance of the nursing profession in the 21st century. It was awarded a silver medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in September 2021.
Florence was considered the pioneer of modern nursing and established the first professional nursing school in the world at St Thomas’ Hospital – the Nightingale School of Nursing – in 1860.
She was influential in the design of the new St Thomas’ Hospital that opened in 1872 with its innovative ‘pavilion style’ of seven large separate buildings connected by walkways, which included courtyards.
With support from Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, the Florence Nightingale Garden has been relocated outside St Thomas’ Hospital on the upper terrace of the Albert Embankment, with views across the River Thames to Westminster.
While almost all of the Chelsea Garden’s key features remain, including the signature 60-foot pergola, some design details have been reconfigured to ensure the new layout is suitable for the hospital site. The garden has been rebuilt by landscape contractors Bowles & Wyer, one of RHS Chelsea’s most experienced landscape contractors and specialists in building restorative gardens for hospitals.
Avey Bhatia, Chief Nurse for Guy’s and St Thomas’, said:
“The new garden is a fitting tribute to Florence Nightingale who did so much to raise the reputation of nursing as a profession. We are incredibly proud of our links to Florence and delighted that this beautiful garden will have a permanent home with us, providing an oasis of calm for our patients, staff and visitors. We are very grateful to Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity and the Burdett Trust for Nursing for making this possible.”
Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, said:
“We’re proud to work with the Burdett Trust for Nursing to bring this wonderful space to St Thomas’ Hospital. It will provide a quiet place for staff, patients and families to relax, reflect and recharge. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’re able to help enhance the environment across the Trust’s sites – creating calm, peaceful spaces to benefit the health and wellbeing of patients and the dedicated staff that care for them.”
Shirley Baines, Chief Executive of the Burdett Trust for Nursing, said:
“We are delighted that this beautiful Chelsea Flower Show garden can find new life at St Thomas’ Hospital. We hope that it will be a tranquil, healing space for all those who visit.”
Robert Myers said:
“I can’t think of a better use of our garden design skills than in a healthcare setting, knowing that gardens and green spaces have a demonstrable, positive impact on physical and mental wellbeing. We designed the Chelsea show garden as a restorative space, honouring Florence Nightingale’s principles; we always hoped that it would be rebuilt in the ‘real world’, and I’m delighted that the garden will now be available permanently for the people who really matter: nurses and patients at St Thomas’.”