A new garden space has opened at Boundary Brook House, one of Oxford’s main centres for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), allowing families a peaceful area for contemplation.The Reflective Garden has come about after St Edward’s school chose Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust’s CAMHS services as the focus for its fundraising activities.  The school and the Trust agreed together that the money could be used to help create a soothing outdoor environment for families who arrive at Boundary Brook House for an appointment, as this can often be a difficult time for young people and their parents or carers.

The Reflective Garden project has been over a year in the making with staff from St Edward’s school and from Boundary Brook House, as well young people from participation group Article 12, all offering valuable input into the design of the outdoor area.  Converting the vision into a reality took a leap forward in April 2012 when construction company Mace, who have been working on the adjacent Old Road Campus site, kindly offered to bolster the funding and offer their design management skills.  With the help of Jonathan Durndell, who acted as project manager for the Trust, Mace quickly developed a design for the reflective garden that met all the key criteria.  Work started on the garden in June and by early September, the previous plot of derelict land had been converted into an oasis of calm

It was agreed from the outset that the garden should offer as sensory an experience as possible.  Most of the planting is in an attractive layout of raised beds, with an array of colourful plants, shrubs and trees that will give year-round interest.  A quietly bubbling water feature and a selection of aromatic herbs engage the senses of hearing and smell. Comfortable teak benches and box hedge planters complete the scheme.

Stuart Bell, Chief Executive of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to open this garden that will be of huge benefit to the families who come to Boundary Brook House.  A clinical appointment can prove a difficult experience – sometimes children are diagnosed with serious conditions or families explore difficult topics with our staff in sessions. Having a peaceful outdoor space in which to gather your thoughts will hopefully be of great use to families in the future.  We are hugely grateful to St Edward’s and its pupils for their fundraising and input into this project and to Mace, who have been key to making the Reflective Garden a reality.”

Stephen Jones, Warden at St Edwards, said:At St Edward’s, our pupils are the driving force behind our charitable activities.  They run an impressive number of charitable activities each year and take a profound interest in the causes they support.  In this case, our pupils were particularly keen to support Boundary Brook House; they wanted to direct funds towards young people in need, and they know from their own experiences that adolescence isn’t always easy.  We are delighted to have played a part in the creation of this tranquil garden, and we hope it will offer comfort to patients and their families for years to come.

Mace project manager Philip Hilton, said:To have the opportunity to add further value to the local community by contributing so directly to those who use Boundary Brook House is a real privilege and we have been thrilled to have been able to offer our help as designers and contractors alongside the Oxford Health NHS FT team.”

At the opening of the garden,left to right: Phil Hilton, Mace Project Manager, Stuart Bell, Chief Executive of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, David Corran, Housemaster, Anne Stewart, Consultant Psychiatrist, and Fergus McAloon, St Edwards sixth form student