River of Flowers latest project ‘Growing Health’ involves working with hospital patients and staff in caring for the natural world by planting wildflowers for urban pollinators. The plan was to bring our Honeycomb Meadow: a mobile, modular, interlocking system of low hexagonal triple planters and taller hexagonal single planters to an accessible site at a city hospital. These planters are designed to be filled with nectar-producing plants and can be used as temporary cover for hard landscaping such as concrete surfaces. They are ideal to set up at an institution because planting in them does not require any permanent site changes or heavy digging.
Gardening a few times per week or even looking at a garden has been shown in studies to have a significant effect on people, both physically and mentally such as lowering heart rate and blood pressure and reducing tension and anxiety. The 'Growing Health' project engages a marginalised section of the community in caring for the environment. For adults living with chronic disease, creating a legacy of living wildflower spaces to benefit their families and friends for years to come could be life-enhancing, as is the process of planting for pollinators itself.
Our first 'Grow Your own Health' project took place on 27 June 2017 at York Hospital where we met up with Griselda Goldsborough (Art and Design Development Manager) and Van Nong (Art Development Officer: Renal Department), other staff and patients at York Hospital as well as Andrew Cutts (Urban Buzz Officer for Buglife), to create a wild container garden outside the Renal Dialysis Unit. Here are some images of the day:
(1) Andrew Cutts from Urban Buzz; (2) Hexagonal tall planter of wild healing herbs (June 2017); (3) Staff member and patient; (5) Van Nong;
(5) River of Flowers team & Chris Ferry from Urban Buzz; (6) hexagonal low triple planters of wildflower turf (June 2017); (7) hexagonal low triple planters one month later (July 2017)
(8) Wild healing herbs planted in York Hospital (July 2017) anti-clockwise from back: Purple Betony (Betonica officinalis); Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile); Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris); Goats Rue; (Galega officinalis); Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris); Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
Our second 'Growing Health' project will take place at the Royal Free Hospital, London. We will be working with Dr Derralynn Hughes, Mike Walker, Clerk of Works, Jenny Todd (Royal Free volunteers), Drew Emeny (Business Support Assistant), other staff including Tracey Clarke, Royal Free Hospital volunteers and patients to create a wild container garden on the balcony outside the Oncology Unit later this year. Next year a Royal Free Garden Party with talks and workshops with staff and patients is planned to launch the new garden.
River of Flowers team for project management and curation
Tammy Crawford Rolt, carpenter and wood designer, for producing the hexagonal Trio and Solo planters
Kerrie McKinnon, landscape designer, for producing CAD drawings of hexagonal Trio and Solo planters
Awards for All (Royal Free Hospital)
The Cooperative Bank (York Hospital)
River of Flowers