Woodland walk extends golden era for Salisbury care home garden


A Salisbury residential and nursing home has topped the field in a citywide gardening competition for the fourth year in a row.

At the start of the woodland walk at Colten Care’s Braemar Lodge care home in Salisbury are, from left, Home Manager Alison Bremner, resident Frances Barrow, gardener Lesley King and resident Dora Williams.

Judges at the Salisbury City Council Garden Awards honoured Colten Care’s Braemar Lodge with its second ‘Gold Gilt’, the highest grade given by the Royal Horticultural Society, first awarded to the home two years ago.

The repeat success follows the creation of a new woodland walk which residents helped to develop with gardener Lesley King and other staff members.

The wheelchair-friendly path, at the back of the Stratford Road home, stretches for more than 30 metres amid pear trees, ferns and primroses, and leads into a small orchard complete with raspberry and blackberry plants and a bug house.

Along the way are benches, bird baths and wooden leaning posts with paintings of birds done by residents in the homes’ craftwork sessions.

Dora Williams, a 91-year-old former head teacher, is one of those most active in the garden. She enjoys daily maintenance tasks such as deadheading, sweeping and tidying up, and watering.   

Dora said: “We have a whole variety of plants getting established. They have taken to the new walk extremely well. The birdlife is absolutely beautiful here. Blue tits and robins love the space and the squirrels are very active too.” 

Praising Lesley’s work, Dora said: “What is so clever here is that when something is dying down there is always something else coming up. With Lesley’s guidance and imagination, we always have a continuation of lovely plants and colours from season to season.”

Competition criteria included layout, atmosphere, plant variety, sustainability and provision for wildlife.

In their citation for Braemar Lodge, judges wrote: “Incredible thought is put into including the residents in every aspect of the garden. Evidence of residents’ creativity is apparent throughout from beautifully painted birds to pottery plaques and ladybird pebbles. The inspired addition of a woodland walk extends the opportunities for a stroll around the garden and has also increased the number of seating areas. It increases the access to wildlife, literally taking people closer to insect boxes and birdlife.”

IT’S A BUG’S LIFE. Resident Dora Williams by the bug house in the award-winning garden.

Lesley said: “In the past four years we have now won two golds and two gold gilts. I think our success is specifically because we adapt and develop the space and we like to get as many residents involved as we can.”

Home Manager Alison Bremner said the home was now looking to strengthen community links to help make the garden even more accessible for local people. A tie-up with the nearby Friends of Victoria Park community initiative is under way and plans are in hand to include the garden in next year’s National Garden Scheme.

Alison said: “It was lovely to see a party of our residents and team members attend the award ceremony at the Guildhall, meet the Mayor of Salisbury and come away as Gold Gilt winners once again before an audience of around 100 people. What a great night out!”

Colten Care’s Head Gardener Charles Hubberstey said: “To have so many successful years in this competition is a rigorous, horticultural achievement. I congratulate all the residents and Alison, Lesley and the whole team at Braemar Lodge for continuing to evolve the garden for people to enjoy.”


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