Tŷ Hafan volunteer gardeners started work on restoring the gardens at the hospice in September 2020 with the initial focus being on clearing the weeds from the overgrown raised beds around the Memorial Garden. Biased as I am, they are now looking beautiful with additional donations of plants adding colour and interest for the enjoyment of families, staff and anyone visiting the hospice.
I joined the team in April this year and can honestly say it is a highlight of my week. Having been a paediatric nurse in Llandough back in the nineties, I was involved in fundraising for the building of the hospice, so it is lovely to be able to return to continue my support through my love for gardening.
There are ten of us who currently volunteer in the gardens, usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings – and we are never short of work to do! Following the revival of the raised beds in the Memorial Garden, we have weeded the gardens around reception and strimmed the shrubbery into shape outside the offices - they were so overgrown that it must have been near-impossible for staff to see through the windows!
There is always something to keep us busy. Cleaning up the pathways is a challenge as the weeds are fighters – as soon as they are struck down they reappear, particularly after rain. We often comment that it would be wonderful if the plants grew as quickly as the weeds!
Recent instant transformations, though the plants need time to grow and mature, can be seen in the raised herb bed and in one of the pebble beds outside the bedroom windows. One of these has been cleaned up and planted and it looks amazing. Once the remaining 11 beds have received the same care and attention, they should provide great pleasure.
In terms of pleasure, we hope that the same will apply to an area that we have cleared of weeds alongside one of the pathways that leads to the main entrance of the hospice. The area has now been replanted with pink rose bushes bought by our volunteers.
One of our volunteers has also been mindful that the beautiful view of the sea has been masked by the shrubbery and has been busy clearing so that the view can once again be enjoyed from the benches in the garden.
Whilst we are keen to restore and maintain the gardens, we are mindful that we need the appropriate equipment and storage. Being resourceful, our gardening team have gathered some useful tools and plants through Facebook. On top of this, a very generous benefactor recently donated tons of topsoil to help nurture the ailing soil in the raised beds.
We are also mindful that funds will be needed to allow some of our ideas to become a reality and for our achievements to be sustained. With this in mind we often discuss ideas for fundraising. For example, we have taken cuttings from the lavender and saplings from the agapanthus and other mature plants in the garden to nurture them for a plant sale next year.
One of the volunteers has used her artistic talent to create gardening-themed Christmas cards that we can sell to family and friends to raise some money. Ever resourceful, she has found a printer who is going to print them free of charge! My husband has nominated the garden project to the Tesco Community Fund and we have written a funding brief for the Tŷ Hafan fundraising team.
This July we also established a Go Fund Me Page which has, so far, raised £500. This will be used to buy specialist tools and spring bulbs. There are few bulbs in the garden and we aim to add a splash of spring colour with daffodils, crocus and snowdrops.
As well as being inspired to transform the gardens, we also chat about various ideas to add interest - the latest being the idea of planting a sunflower bed next year to provide colour and something that we believe the children and families might enjoy being involved in. There are already family gardening sessions which our garden volunteers support.
We are grateful to the many family, friends and neighbours who have supported us with donations of plants and tools and to the Tŷ Hafan staff and families for their support and encouragement – we couldn’t do it without you!
We are also grateful for the help of anyone who is willing to help us in whatever way they can, be it through monetary donations, gifts-in-kind or volunteering to work in the garden with us. We are all amateurs and we all have a great variety of skills that we have gathered over the years but we need more people-power. The advice of a gardening expert would be most welcome too.
Finally, we work hard but we always stop for elevenses – coffee, home-made cake and a chat – the social side is important too! During the summer months we sit in the grounds but this is not something we look forward to in the winter. We were therefore pleased to be offered space in one of the garages – which serves us well and provides safe storage for our tools. We have a vision though – that one day we will have our very own luxurious potting shed (and maybe greenhouse) in the grounds - please watch this space!