Shakespearean Roof Garden for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

25 June 2014

I know a place where wild thyme blooms” said Shakespeare’s Oberon, and more than 400 years after the first performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the bard has inspired a rooftop garden at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Staff from Unilever, corporate supporters of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity, and students from Manchester Metropolitan University will be creating a sensory garden featuring plants and herbs referenced in Shakespearean plays for patients at the hospital to enjoy.

The garden will be tied into the hospital school’s curriculum and children will be able to visit it to learn why fennel was mentioned in Hamlet, or what the connection is between Othello and lettuce.

Employees from the Unilever owned PG Tips, a factory local to the hospital, will be giving their time to build the garden which will be a vibrant outdoor space for patients to enjoy. The company have also donated funds to pay for plants and other equipment, and a team of project managers from the factory being heavily involved in the planning and logistic of the running the day for the 35+ volunteers. The staff are all incredibly excited to have an opportunity to be involved in such great project, making a difference in the local community and the experience that the children at the hospital have during their stay.

The thriving Manchester Metropolitan University Urban Gardening Society, jumped at the chance to help design a garden in such an unusual and useful spot. 

All the plants used in the garden can be found in the bard of Avon’s plays.  Examples include Lavender from A Winter’s Tale, Rosemary from King Lear and Parsley from The Taming of the Shrew.  The garden will also feature solar lights and wind chimes of different materials. 

Sarah Naismith, Head of Charities for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity said:

“We are extremely grateful to Unilever and Manchester Metropolitan University for the time and effort they’ve committed to building the sensory roof garden at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.  The garden will make a fantastic addition to the outdoor play area and it’s fantastic that it will be up and running ready for summer.”

She continued “The hospital school and Play department were keen for the garden to be educational as well as beautiful.  The Shakespearean theme is a wonderful way to engage the patients.”

Scott Tanswell, a second year History student at MMU who is project managing the garden said:

“The terrace is a lovely space, but there’s no greenery up there so it was an ideal spot to make the garden. It will have a huge impact on these children who aren’t very well, and will hopefully help aid their recovery”.