RHS-worthy gardens are being planted in NHS hospitals as a way of saying thank you

In response to the heavy sacrifices made by NHS staff during the pandemic, the 11 Foundation, which was set up by Carly Cole and her husband ex-footballer Joe Cole, is planting stunning gardens within the grounds of NHS hospitals as a way of saying thank you and giving something back.

Award-winning garden designer Jo Thompson, who is the recipient of four Gold and five Silver Gilt medals from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and gained the coveted People’s Choice at the first RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in 2017, has been recruited to design the world-class gardens.

11 Foundation NHS garden
11 Foundation

It’s widely recognised that gardens in hospital settings can be a haven for staff and patients alike, enhancing wellbeing and providing a much needed sanctuary of calm, something that’s more crucial than ever during times of crisis such as the current pandemic. The first garden will be revealed on 30 September at Nottingham University Hospital.

‘I am delighted to launch the 11 Foundation with my husband starting with our NHS Gardens initiative, in collaboration with Jo Thompson,’ said Carly. ‘We recognised that gardens are desperately needed resources at hospitals to help boost morale, improve mental health and process trauma.

11 Foundation NHS garden
11 Foundation

‘Whilst some NHS staff will process the impact of Covid-19 over time, many are suffering with bereavement, heightened anxiety, stress and fatigue. By working with Jo Thompson we have created a best in class garden sanctuary to address the physical and psychological symptoms of stress and trauma connected to working life in a busy hospital, particularly during a time of crisis.’

Describing the first 11 Foundation NHS Garden, Jo said: ‘I’m a firm believer in the restorative powers of Nature. Our NHS gardens have been designed with the immediate and longer-term needs in mind.

11 Foundation NHS garden
11 Foundation

‘Early flowering bulbs offer optimism and hope at the start of the year, whilst spring and summer bring a tranquil palette of aromatic, flowering plants and soft, feathery grasses stimulate the senses. Late flowering perennials extend the season for nectar, increasing biodiversity of wildlife and create a garden teeming with life.’

The 11 Foundation NHS Garden Initiative is the first of many projects for Carly and Joe, who said: ‘I am excited about future projects with the 11 Foundation and how we can help in different ways. My passion is sport and I am going to be using my strengths to take on a series of 11 Challenges to help raise awareness and funds for the causes we are supporting.’