“Volunteering gives me a chance to be creative, spend time with gardening friends, and doing what I love to do.”
Seasons change. So does the flora. Linda Scarr has seen and shaped many a season at St Luke’s where she has been volunteering as a gardener for over 10 years. She is a qualified garden designer and has used her design skills in shaping the Hospice’s award-winning gardens.
Linda was a social work manager in Watford but retired in 2005 to spend more time with her brother Michael, who was very ill. She first came to St Luke’s hospice when he was admitted in January 2006. He passed away that month.
Linda enjoys gardening and loves shape and texture in the garden as much as the flowers. “I don’t like bonsai, though”, she says. After her retirement, she trained as a garden designer. She wanted to volunteer her time and was keen to give something back to St Luke’s. It was by chance that Linda came across an advertisement for a volunteer gardener in the hospice newsletter. She started work in the hospice garden in 2008.
There have been a lot of changes since Linda started working in the hospice gardens, both in the gardens and in the volunteer group. Many of the original volunteers who were here in 2008 have retired or moved on.
Linda says, ‘We currently have a very dedicated group with a good mix of skills.’ A lot of the planting has changed and evolved over time. Lining the garden boundaries there were huge Leylandii trees which blocked the light. These have now been replaced by deciduous trees which allow more light to come through and provide unhindered views of the trees in the park.
After the new extension [Woodgrange Centre] was built in 2014, Linda was delighted to be asked to design a new garden at the rear. Fully supported by the Chief Executive, the architect and her volunteer colleagues, she enjoyed creating the beautiful new square garden with a circular lawn, surrounded by colourful borders and a central seating area with a spherical steel fountain. Linda says, “It was important to me that patients and relatives should be able to walk through the garden and sit and relax by the fountain. I used a lot of pastel coloured flowers in this garden, to create a tranquil atmosphere.”
In 2013 Linda fell and broke her shoulder whilst on holiday in Mallorca, and in 2015 she broke her knee whilst on holiday in Avignon! Yet, she wanted to continue working on the gardens but, as she was unable to drive, other volunteers took it in turns to provide her with a lift to and from the hospice.
Linda’s husband has dementia and she took take some time off last year to care for him but since he went into residential care last July, she returned to volunteering. Currently, she is working on designing a new memorial garden for St Luke’s.
Linda says, “Volunteering gives me a chance to be creative, spend time with gardening friends, and doing what I love to do.” About volunteering at St Luke’s she says, “We have a wonderful group of people. Each has a different personality, yet we love working together as a team and learning from each other. Everybody here loves to give and I value the friendships that I have made here”.