Chemotherapy treatment is now possible outside for patients attending Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, thanks to the opening of a new fern garden

The fern garden is a beautiful, calm place where patients, families and staff at Mount Vernon – which treats patients from across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, north and west London – can relax and unwind.

There is a carefully-crafted shelter – made using sustainable local timbers – that has been specially designed so it can accommodate a nurse, a patient and a chemo stand so that outdoor chemotherapy is now possible for those who want it. 

The garden will also provide a sense of safety and tranquillity, and a welcome connection to nature for patients going through a difficult time.

Following the opening of the woodland walkway in July, the fern garden is the latest project to transform green spaces at Mount Vernon and sees the return of the ‘fresh air for health’ at the cancer centre. The hospital, which opened in 1902, was originally built for patients with tuberculosis and other lung diseases to benefit from being outside in the fresh air. The site was chosen for its high ground and gentle slopes within easy reach of central London.

The transformation of Mount Vernon’s outdoor spaces is being led by the cancer centre’s nature recovery ranger, Karen MacKelvie.

Karen said: “This is such a fantastic project and I’m proud to have helped make it happen.

“We’ve managed to create a beautiful and calm space where patients, their families and staff can benefit from being outside in the fresh air. Being able to spend some time outside in nature will make such a difference to our patients.

“We’d like to thank everyone who supported the fern garden project including: the Centre of Sustainable Healthcare and the Green Recovery Challenge Fund; Co-op Local Community Fund; Heathrow Community Fund; landscape designer Aileen Shackell; Greystoke Builders; Paul Shanahan; Andy Trotman at Timberwright; James Matthews at Oliver James Landscapes; Blakedown Contractors and all our amazing donors, fundraisers and the brilliant volunteers who gave their time to make it happen.”

The next stage of the project is to install a specially commissioned metal sculpture in the garden, with the opportunity for people to purchase engraved copper leaves to add to the sculpture to pay tribute to a loved one or mark a special occasion.