Serenity Garden Makeover 2022 - East Cheshire Hospice

Serenity Garden Makeover 2022

A courtyard at East Cheshire Hospice is set to be transformed into a floral wonderland for patients and their families.

Garden and landscape professionals are joining forces with volunteers to create a horticultural haven called Serenity Garden.

The eco-friendly project, co-ordinated by garden designer and maker Ben Darlington, is already under way and will be well advanced within weeks.

The open patio space at the rear of the Hospice was enclosed once the new Proseal Wing was built last year.

The two in-patient wards back on to the courtyard inspiring Ben, owner of The Wild Gardener, to create a year-round retreat for patients and visitors.

Volunteer gardener Deborah Roberts with garden designer Ben Darlington (left) and landscaper Mark Marshall. 

Ben said: “I found out the average length of stay on a ward is two weeks, so felt we’ve needed a garden where there’s something going on every single week of the year.

“That gave me the idea of perpetual renewal to create a sense of optimism. An outside area for patients and somewhere families coming to see loved ones can reflect.

“Every month if you came out and looked at the garden you’ll find something coming into bud, so it’ll be like life surging through.

“Once it’s finished we’re going to do some calendars for the wards showing not just what’s out this month, but what to look for.

“It’s that optimism that even in the bleaker months of the year you can come out and see things just beginning to push through.

“The summer as a garden designer is quite easy, but in the winter months we’ve got fragrant shrubs, and shrubs and trees with red and white bark.”

The design is also part of the Hospice’s green initiative. Ben said: “Plants are by definition a renewable resource – compared to so many landscaping materials like paving from another country.

“The emphasis is on sustainability and with a deep layer of moist compost, it won’t need watering nearly as much.

“The paving uses recycled materials from the old patio, so we didn’t have to bring in any more stone.

“Much of the garden is herbaceous grasses and plants. It’ll be lovely from day one with a wow factor this summer, but will get even better and in five years will really feel mature.

“The shade does make the garden more of a challenge. The gardens are managed by a fantastic volunteer team, but not adding too much to their to-do list has been key.”

The garden before the makeover team got to work.

A big community effort is behind creating Serenity Garden in the grounds of East Cheshire Hospice.

Corporate supporters are joining volunteers from the charity’s regular gardening team and Bollington families to put 1,000 plants into the ground.

Mark Marshall’s team from Lawn Stripes and Hedges, of Macclesfield, has already undertaken preparatory landscape work, his poodle Button never far away.

Mark’s eco-friendly landscaping company has raised funds and also supports the Hospice by loaning vans for Christmas tree collections.

Landscapers Roco Fregapane (left) and Aaran Manton remove the old patio. 

He said: “It’s a local project involving design, landscaping and planting. Cheshire Demolition donated skips and Pivotal Plant Hire gave a big discount on diggers.”

Retired practice nurse Deborah Roberts has been a volunteer gardener at East Cheshire for 14 years.

She said: “We’re all excited by the whole project of learning and seeing a new garden emerge. This oasis will be lovely to see from the wards and it’s wonderful working with our designer Ben Darlington who’s so knowledgeable.

A tight fit…Rob Shem from Pivotal Plant Hire squeezes a digger into the courtyard watched by Zak and Jake.   

“He’s keen to have nature here all year round and this space is going to be fantastic. We can keep labour costs down by working alongside Ben.”

The Hospice is always looking for volunteer gardeners who meet on Wednesday mornings. For more details contact Volunteering team on

Ben said:  “The new garden is 120 square metres of herbaceous border, so we needed a design manageable for them.  I’ve taken a low maintenance approach, so they don’t have to worry about watering it in the summer, or staking, pruning and feeding.”


To find out more about our green initiatives including our solar panel campaign, go to

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