A love of gardening as a small child has led one man to our doors.
Joel Richards has just taken on the role of head gardener at our gardens at Apley in Telford and Bicton in Shrewsbury.
The 47-year-old from Bomere Heath, near Shrewsbury can’t wait to get his hands mucky and is letting his imagination run wild for the award-winning plots.
After working for the National Trust at Sunnycroft in Telford and Attingham Park near Shrewsbury, for 22 years, Joel is now in charge of the landscaping and planting of the areas surrounding the new community-based centre at Bicton as well as our Telford hospice.
“It is a real honour to be able to have the opportunity to realise something that is in your head and see it come true,” said Joel. “I began gardening as a child and my parents are very keen gardeners too. It is great to be able to have a vision and see it come to fruition in a garden.”
He also has many plans to create quiet areas in the established gardens at Apley and develop mindfulness walks at both gardens. This is on top of the maintenance work he and his team of gardeners and volunteers have each day, whatever the weather in the beautiful gardens.
“I have got a really amazing space to maintain here at the hospice, but I also have a blank canvas as well, so I have the best of both worlds.”
For the space around the community-based centre, Joel is planning a prairie-style garden, planting with grasses, verbena and gravel paths. To the rear of the building, the ground has been prepared and sown with wildflower seeds with a view to a colourful meadow.
“I don’t know how many will bloom though,” he said. “The pigeons seem to have been dining out on the seed.”
He hopes that his mindfulness walks will create spiritually uplifting areas and encourage visitors, staff and patients to stop and take in the sights and smells of nature.
“When I applied for the job here, I was nervous,” he said. “But as soon as I came for my interview, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I wanted to work somewhere that makes such an impact on people’s lives and where I can put my horticultural skills to use in such a beautiful environment.
“The main goal in my head is to get every member of staff here at the hospice to see the gardens as a tool that really make a difference to everyone who comes – whether they are staff, visitors or patients. The garden is another way for them to bring comfort to those we care for.”