The sculptor Heather Burrell has forged a new community link with Dulwich Hospital and has the go-ahead to create with local residents a Physic Garden in the grounds, near the War memorial.
The garden will be a community garden, built by the community, for the community. The hospital itself wants to promote a sense of wellbeing, and what better way, then to have a space where the hospital users have a place nearby to sit, rest and enjoy the garden.
Heather lives in East Dulwich and has designed many fine gates and railings that form part of the street furniture of East Dulwich and Peckham including the street frontages at Marsden Road. Her metal working studio is at the Art in Perpetuity Trust at Deptford. Trained at Wimbledon Art School she has had much success as a steelworker cutting patterns based on leaf, seed and flower forms, both for decorative panels and as freestanding forms. Her Leaf Cycle, to commemorate the Tour de France, can be seen on the roundabout at the approach to the Rotherhithe Tunnel.
The project at present, is not much more than a cleared patch of land beyond the fine old railings – has had an incredible boost from The Goose Is Out!, who are organising a charity gig with seven bands on Sunday 22 January, 2pm – 9pm at Dulwich Hamlets Football Club.
Local businesses have given a score of magnificent raffle prizes too, and there has been generous and unstinting support from gardeners who are providing plants, topsoil and muscle to prepare and plant the raised beds.
The Dulwich Community Physic Garden is the brainchild of the sculptor Heather Burrell, developed in her capacity as Chair of Vale Residents Association with members of the hospital management team and a bevy of enthusiasts for earthy bed-making!
The Physic Garden, on the lines of a monastic herbal garden, will be created in a pattern of raised beds – planters, not hospital beds! – With benches to sit in the sun, built as a gift in kind by McGovern Carpentry and Design. The planting will be of medicinal plants traditionally used in the West and tolerant of the dry conditions under trees that are found at the entrance to the hospital. Vale Residents (email below) would be happy to receive gifts – seeds, cuttings – of medicinal but not poisonous plants in January/February 2012 and will be holding workdays for those interested in helping establish the garden.