Charity’s new head gardener seeks to make a difference


Joel Richards has just assumed the role of Head Gardener in the gardens of Severn Hospice in Apley in Telford and Bicton in Shrewsbury.

The 47-year-old from Bomere Heath, near Shrewsbury, said he can’t wait to get his hands dirty and let his imagination run wild for the award-winning storylines.

After working for the National Trust at Sunnycroft in Telford and Attingham Park near Shrewsbury, for 22 years, Joel is now in charge of landscaping and planting the areas surrounding the new Hospice Campus Community Center in Bicton as well as the Telford Charitable Hospice.

He said: “It is a real honor to be able to have the opportunity to achieve something that is in your head and to see it come to pass. I started gardening when I was a child and my parents are also avid gardeners. It’s great to be able to have a vision and see it come to fruition in a garden.

Joel has many plans to create quiet areas in the established gardens at Apley and develop mindful walks in both gardens.

This is in addition to the maintenance work he and his team of gardeners and volunteers do every day, regardless of the weather in the beautiful gardens.

He said: “I have a really amazing space to maintain here at the hospice, but I also have a blank canvas, so I have the best of both worlds.”

Joel Richards, new head gardener at Severn Hospice

For the space around the Bicton Community Center, Joel plans a meadow-style garden, planted with herbs, verbena and gravel paths.

At the back of the building, the ground has been prepared and sown with wildflower seeds in preparation for a colorful meadow – although he joked that local birds may well have a say in the outcome.

“I don’t know how many will bloom though,” he said. “The pigeons seem to have eaten the seed.”

He hopes his mindfulness walks 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 at Severn Hospice, I was nervous,” he said. “But as soon as I came for my interview, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I wanted to work in a place that has such an impact on people’s lives and where I can put my horticultural skills to good use in such a beautiful environment.

“The main goal in my head is to get every staff member here at the hospice to see the gardens as a tool that really makes a difference for everyone who comes – whether they are staff, visitors. or patients.

“The garden is another way for them to bring comfort to those we love. “

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