World Child Cancer’s Nurturing Garden

Sanctuary Gardens
RHS Environmental Innovation Award winner

Designed as a sensory haven, this garden brings joy, hope and escapism through nature for children undergoing cancer treatment.

Circular raised beds, made from perforated clay blocks, offer diverse sensory experiences through soft-touch plants, fragrant herbs, and vibrant mosses whilst the lower raised beds cultivate edible plants for exploration. These low-maintenance, resilient plants symbolise the countries supported by World Child Cancer UK by improving global child cancer survival rates through community and healthcare empowerment.

Supporting emotional wellbeing, a child and a parent can stroll through the reclaimed brick path, which leads to scenic meadow surrounded by tall trees, perennials, annuals, and shrubs. At its heart lies a seating area, which is a restful place for children and their loved ones.

At a glance:

Who is this garden for? 
Children affected by cancer and their families.
Where is the garden set?  
Urban areas near hospital sites.
Who or what is the design inspiration?
World Child Cancer UK’s holistic approach to care. Its distinctively shaped raised bed design is inspired by keyhole gardens, originally seen in sub-Saharan Africa for growing vegetables and crops on dry, exposed and compacted soils providing a cocooning, restful space for children experiencing cancer.

Key sustainability points:

  • The garden’s construction is made with low carbon materials with no concrete or metal materials used
  • Sustainable and peat-free soils are used, and carefully selected plants that will be hardy, resistant and drought resistant
  • The watering system installed at the garden will be through traditional clay devices called ‘ollas’, which is a low-tech system with no need for water pressure nor electricity to ensure water wastage is minimal and at its most effective
  • Keyhole gardens are designed with a central composting basket that not only enriches the soil, encourages organisms and reduces water use
  • Raised beds are designed to fit together like a modular-block system requiring no concrete or chemical glues in their assembly
  • Any leftover bricks from the raised beds will be crushed and recycled to find a second life as part of a smooth, guiding garden path
  • All plants in the garden will be sourced from the UK

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.